The fourth edition of the Conversation on Conservation (COC) has officially opened today in the Kigali Cultural and Exhibition Village. The two-day forum brings together conservation and tourism experts from around the world to discuss, debate and find solutions for conservation challenges. The theme of this year’s event is ‘Advancing Conservation through Technology’.
The COC, is part of the week-long 2018 Kwita Izina celebrations.
The theme of this year’s Kwita Izina, a uniquely Rwandan event introduced in 2005 with the aim of creating awareness of conservation efforts for the endangered mountain gorilla, is ‘Conservation is Life’.
The Kwita Izina gorilla naming ceremony will take place in Kinigi, Northern Province on 7, September. 23 infant mountain gorillas will be named this year.
Welcoming the COC participants, the Rwanda Development Board Chief Tourism Officer, Belise Kariza, said:
“This 4th Kwita Izina Conversation on Conservation Conference for which you have joined today and tomorrow, is an important forum bringing together you, the conservation and tourism experts from around the World, to discuss, debate and find solutions to the challenges we all face in conservation today – in Rwanda, in Africa and Globally.
We have a line-up of excellent speakers who, in a research symposium format, will share their expertise and experiences in the use of technology to advance conservation – the sub-theme for this year’s COC Conference. This year’s COC Conference also builds upon one our key goals, also a goal of the Government of Rwanda, that of actively involving and building capacity in our Youth, the future leaders and stewards of our natural and cultural heritage in Rwanda.
“This important Conservation Conference also provides the opportunity to renew profession working friendships and networks, as well as establish new ones. These friendships and networks help to improve and build research capacity and partnerships for more effective monitoring and research activities which are critical to the successful conservation and management of the natural ecosystems in Rwanda, Africa and the World”, Chief Tourism Officer, Belise Kariza, ended.
Welcoming the Guest of Honor, the Right Honorable Prime Minister of the Republic of Rwanda, Edourard Ngirente, to the 2018 Conversation on Conservation, the Chief Executive Officer of Rwanda Development Board, Clare Akamanzi, said:
“Kwita Izina, a family of conservation and tourism events which includes this COC Conference, are indeed important to Rwandans because they not only celebrate our significant conservation and sustainable tourism achievements, but share them with the World. This Conference also continues to be an important call to action in support of conservation and sustainable tourism in Rwanda”, Chief Executive Officer, Clare Akamanzi noted.
Officially opening the 2018 COC, the Guest of Honor, the Right Honorable Prime Minister of the Republic of Rwanda, Edourard Ngirente noted:
“The use of new technologies in conservation will help us to easily gather accurate more data on wildlife and efficient monitor the entire ecosystems and adopt concrete majors to protect threatened species.
The 23 new baby mountain gorillas that will be named on the 7th September is yet another indicator that proves Rwanda determination to protect our biodiversity assets. Our tourism strategy is conservation led.
Tourism is one of the key pillars of our economy and has been one of Rwanda’s major foreign currency source for the last seven years. For example, tourism is a leading source of foreign exchange for Rwanda; this sector alone accounts for 44% of our service exports as well as 21% of all export goods and services.
I call on all participants here today to use this Conference as a means to learn about what technologies have been used in the past to support conservation, and to discuss how they can shape and support achieving even greater conservation results.
It is on this note that I declare open this Fourth Conversation on Conservation Conference. I wish you all well during this Conference and look forward to hearing the results of your deliberations”, Prime Minister, Ngirente concluded.
The Kwita Izina Conservation Exhibition is taking place on the sidelines of the COC. The exhibition brings together tourism and conservation partners from across the region to showcase conservation efforts and avail educational materials to the general public
As a result of conservation efforts such as Kwita Izina, the population of the endangered mountain gorilla has increased to 604 in 2016 in the Virunga Massif compared to 480 in 2010. The Virunga Massif is comprised Mikeno Sector of Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. Mountain gorilla numbers in the entire area had fallen as low as 242 in 1981.