Home NewsNational RDB Updates PAC on Stray Wild Animals, Park Revenues and Compensation

RDB Updates PAC on Stray Wild Animals, Park Revenues and Compensation

by Daniel Sabiiti
11:19 pm

Gishwati Mukura National Park

During a Parliament Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing on September 11, 2023 Rwanda Development Board (RDB) was asked to explain the current status of managing parks and issues around complaints of wild animals damaging property in communities.

Dr. Eugene Mutangana, Head of Conservation at RDB confessed that there is a problem with managing parks and animals damaging properties and farmlands thus engaging the private sector is one of the short term solutions to the problem of wild animals living outside parks.

Mutangana explained that government would have invested in resettling the wild game but it is very expensive and costly in terms of technical requirements and killing the animals would also be equally costly in many ways.

He said: “The government has already invested in the case of Nyandungu Urban Wetland Eco-tourism Park and this is something that the private sector can chip in,to establish similar parks.”

This means that an investor has to go by the guidelines of the new biodiversity and park law; and follow the right procedures in capturing, transportation and resettling the animals but also ensure safety for both the animals and tourists.

Private sector investment in wild life conservation tourism will be a new initiative that could encourage investors from neigbouring countries such as Kenya where private game tourism is a big venture.

PAC questioned RDB officials over the status of creating an extended buffer zone in the Mukura-Gishwati National Park and delays involved in expropriation payments for concerned citizens to allow the planned activities to progress.

The project was meant to restore the natural forest (653 ha), restore buffer zone plantations (500 ha) around the park, plant natural forests (700 ha) and sustainable land management on 1406 ha as over 18 tree species were supposed to be introduced.

Telesphore Ngoga, the RDB conservation specialist said that 500 ha were expropriated last year and another 500 ha will be expropriated out of the 23,000 ha, an exercise that will cost over Rwf40billion.

“There was delay in expropriation but the biggest challenge was the budget constraints during the pandemic and the law on parks was not in place by the time but the process of expropriation is underway and we will execute it with the available budget,” Mutangana said.

On the issue of fencing the existing parks to avoid wild animals destroying property, RDB officials said that fencing has been done and 40% of the animals are no longer straying out of the park as it used to be.

So far, RDB said that about 1,030 wild animals have been returned to the parks and the activity is still underway.

“Even if you have fenced some parts of the parks, we see that you need to do more as a priority especially on compensation to avoid citizens destroying the same parks that they should protect,” said MP Jeanne d’Arc Uwimanimpaye.

MP Anita Mutesi also raised an issue on concerns of compensating citizen’s land and property damaged by wild animals and at a greater extent have to travel to Kigali to submit their claims.

On this, Ngoga said that compensation of buffer zone residents was on Gishwati-Mukura Park area but under the process the citizens are allowed to use the land for cultivation because they were not yet expropriated but not allowed to construct or mine in these areas.

RDB officials also clarified that compensation is a responsibility of the Special Guarantee Fund (SGF) but also explained that residents no longer have to travel to Kigali instead contact sector officials to call Kigali for follow up on their claims.

On the question why the agreed government 10% tourism revenues re-investment in the communities around parks is invested (80%) in infrastructure projects, the RDB officials explained that a needs assessment indicated that communities living around  parks were in need of the infrastructure- such as schools, hospitals, roads, and bridges which enhance livelihoods.

Mutangana said that after this infrastructure investment, the trend has been changing towards investing in economic development projects.

Ngoga explained that since 2022, 27.9% was invested in community education projects, 14.97% in constructing houses for vulnerable families, and 9% was put in roads, however out of the 881 projects funded, 17.7% were in education, 13.73% in livestock, 13.28% in agriculture.

PAC chairman MP Valens Muhakwa said the park issue have to be solved immediately and with urgency especially in buffer zones and payment of compensations at the RDB level, and the rest be handled by other institutions.

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