Conservation Program In Rwanda Helps Turn Gorilla Poachers Into Ecotourism Guides

Date September 19, 2008

Conservationists at the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE), University of Kent, are celebrating a double achievement – the success of a conservation programme in Rwanda that has helped turn gorilla poachers into ecotourism guides, and a major international award for the programme's founder, alumnus Edwin Sabuhoro.

Mr Sabuhoro, a Rwandan national, completed his one-year MSc in Conservation and Tourism at DICE in 2006 with a dissertation titled Ecotourism as a potential conservation incentive for local communities around Rwanda's Parc National des Volcans. A dedicated 'adventurer, naturalist, educator, guide, tracker, ranger and conservationist', Mr Sabuhoro then put his research findings into action by founding the Iby'Iwacu Cultural Village in Northern Rwanda, a community-based ecotourism initiative that was designed to develop incentives for local people to protect gorilla habitats.

Already, the outcomes of his project are astonishing: local people own 100% of the project; the cultural village has increased ecotourism by 40%, generating a sustainable income base from it; and, most significantly, the poaching of gorillas has been reduced by 60% as the revenue from ecotourism has encouraged local people to protect them.

Poaching of gorillas has been reduced by 60% in northern Rwanda as the revenue from ecotourism has encouraged local people to protect them. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of Kent)

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