RDB (Rwanda Development Board) yesterday gave 7 local 15 year olds, who were accompanied by their guardians, a unique gorilla trekking experience in Volcanoes National Park as part of its efforts to instill a culture of conservation in Rwandan youth.
Selected through a competition that was announced by RDB during this year’s Liberation Day celebrations, the teenagers left Kigali on Saturday afternoon to participate in an early morning trek on Sunday.
RDB’s Chief Tourism Officer, Belise Kariza, urged them to be the next generation of conservationists in the country.
“We need to impart the importance of conservation among the youth in order for them to carry on the mountain gorilla conservation efforts that have seen the number of mountain gorillas’ increase. Through gorilla conservation and tourism, we are directly benefitting from these wonderful species. Over the last nine years, revenues from mountain gorilla conservation and the resulting tourism has brought US$107 million to the national coffers,” Kariza noted.
Following the trek, Lelia Gasaro, one of the young trekkers, said that she found the trip educative.
“This trip is good because it helps us to see for ourselves what we learn in school and what the country is doing to conserve the gorillas. The information I received from the guides was good because I knew some of it and also learnt new details that I will share with my friends,” Gasaro noted.
From 15th-16th December, a second group of 15-year olds will travel to Volcanoes National Park courtesy of RDB’s Liberation Day giveaway.
According to a recent census by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), conservation efforts have resulted in an increase in the number of mountain gorillas in the Virunga Massif region to more than 1000 gorillas, from 242 in 1981 and 480 in 2010.