They laud the benefits attributed to the conservation of Birunga Park 


Rwandan Government established policies and measures meant to protectand conserve and countering the decrease in biodiversity, as a result, its enshrined in the Vision 2050, where its anticipated that Rwanda will be driven by an economy which will be environment friendly, and resilient to climate change. 

Its in that context that the residents of Nyange and Kinigi Sectors in Musanze District formed different Cooperatives, and among them include the ex-poachers, and today they are proud of the benefits they attribute to the protection the biodiversity in Birunga Park.

The residents near Birunga Park, testify that since they ceased destruction of its biodiversity, thus rrealizing the benefits of protecting it, today they are grouped into Cooperatives which deal in different activities with the help of SACOLA (Sabyinyo community livelihood Association), among the activities include technical skills, crop husbandry, modern and others.

Uwayezu Boniface is 55 years old, and a resident of Nyange sector in Musanze district testified that in the past he was among the poachers in Birunga Park where he would engage in cutting trees, because he would go with the ones who would be cutting firewood to cook, however, he later on abandoned and joined a Cooperative for irish potatoes growers thereby accessing the benefits of residing near the  Park and protecting it.

He had this to say, “We used to get meat from Birunga National Park, where we would spoil the trees within looking for firewood, but since 2015, our mentalities changed with the help of the Government our lives have changed, our livelihoods are better now, and we attribute it to the Government. As a result, I have a nice house and iam not the only one, who has it, because the residents near the Park realized the importance of protecting it thus benefitting from its proceeds.”

Uwayezu confirms that the mindset of the residents near Birunga Park who were the ones degrading started to change gradually since 2004, after the foundation of SACOLA (Sabyinyo Community Livelihood), which was founded for the purpose of mobilizing the citizens near the Park to protect it.

Mukamana is a resident in Kinigi sector, Musanze district, she said, “I was ever constantly worried that my husband would be killed by wild animals, and most distressing among them was the fact that my child would be approaching adolescence would be taken by his/her father, and sometimes they would over delay which could render me to think that they had died. Long live SACOLA! It changed their mentalities and now they are grouped in different Cooperatives, which help them to foster their development, now our livelihoods are okay, young men engage in technical related skills, and my husband engages in crop farming and animal livestock husbandry, actually we have registered development and now i am no longer stressed i am calm”.

Through this Cooperative, it played a fundamental role regarding protecting Birunga Park and even the caretaker of the Park Uwingeri Prosper, hereby confirms it, through SACOLA, potable water and schools are now available, for the use by the citizens of Kinigi and Nyange Sectors, and it helps very many people as far as grouping in Cooperatives for modern crop husbandry and livestock husbandry, which in turn helped them to prosper, and now, many of them do regret for the time they wasted as poachers whereas others would be busy degrading the flora which comprises the Park.

The management of SACOLA points out that all activities pertaining to the Cooperatives have first to be selected in accordance to the approval of the citizens thereby being determined by the amount of money available, which comes from tourists, who come to visit Virunga Park, where they seek accommodation from the Hotel which was built by the Cooperative.

The District Authorities testify that protecting Birunga Park benefitted the citizens

The Vice Mayor of Musanze district in charge of social welfare Axelle Kamanzi said, “The citizens near Birunga Park decided to protect it, by preventing it from the poachers, after realizing that it acted as a precursor to their development.”

Said that SACOLA Cooperative introduced development characterized by the citizens’ wealth within its operational sectors, and this was achieved as a result of concerted efforts as far mobilization of the population is concerned, in the context of protecting Birunga Park.

There was a sustained campaign on the national level to protect diversity

The Park’s Caretaker, Uwingeri Prosper said that poachers’ acts ceased and whenever they apprehend a person involving in such acts, or else suspecting someone, in conjunction with administrative structures and Cooperatives of the ex poachers where they are integrated as beneficiaries of the tourism proceeds.

The Park’s Care taker Uwingeri Prosper highlighted on the measures in place to protect it, and he had this to say, “Which ever resources getrs available be it from Rwanda Development Board or the money from the Park 10% of it is earmarked for solving miscellaneous problems and among them include funding Cooperatives for the former poachers.”

The Minister for Environment Dr Mujawamariya Jeanne d’Arc said that it’s imperative to protect biodiversity

During the commemoration of environment on the 5th June 2021, The Minister of environment Dr Mujawamariya Jeanne d’Arc said, “Today today is faced with extra ordinary times as a result of Covid-19, which is an additional to the problems caused by climate change. It has been evidenced that man’s activities for the quest of development have greatly exacerbated the environment including biodiversity at unprecedented rate in mankind’s history, as a result, ¼ of them could be at the verge of extinction, within the next 10 years if there isn’t any measure taken to protect them.”

As a reminder, Rwanda is located the Region in Africa a variety of biodiversity than other countries. It’s a hub for approximately 40% of the mammals on the continent (402 species), a diversity of birds (1,061 species), reptiles and amphibians (293 species), and flora with trunks (5,793 species)

Within the 12 sectors which surround Birunga Park, including Nyange and Kinigi over 40 Cooperatives operate there with over 5000 members and these have active role in protecting the Park.


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