The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) has taken over the management of Gishwati-Mukura National Park, previously managed by the Ministry of Environment.

RDB has appointed a chief park warden who will be assisted by 25 park rangers. In addition, RDB is working on a multi-phased conservation and tourism management programme with Imizi, a conservation organisation and a subsidiary of Wilderness Safaris, to develop and operate an exclusive chimpanzee and primate trekking experience under the Wilderness Safaris brand.

RDB will oversee ecology and conservation initiatives, including ranger presence, law enforcement, science, engagement of community cooperatives, human-wildlife conflict resolution, research and monitoring.

Speaking during the handover ceremony at the Ministry of Environment in Kigali on October 1, Minister Vincent Biruta said: “Our objective for the Gishwati-Mukura National Park has always been to restore it after large parts were cleared before and after the 1994 genocide of the Tutsi – a result of human settlement, agricultural practices and illegal mining. I commend the efforts made by different stakeholders whose work has led to the status we celebrate today. These partners include the Association Rwandaise des Ecologistes, the Albertine Rift Conservation Society and Forest of Hope. They have all played a significant role and supported the work done by government to restore and revitalise this regionally important biodiversity hotspot.”

RDB Chief Tourism Officer, Belise Kariza, said: “This ceremony marks a new step on the conservation agenda of our country. We believe that conservation is not only important to preserve our natural heritage for future generations, but also because of the role it plays in developing tourism as a pillar of the economy. Following the gazetting of Gishwati-Mukura National Park, I am proud to note that 8.9% of Rwanda’s national territory is protected as national parks.

We expect this new project in Gishwati-Mukura National Park to offer another unique world-class tourist experience and draw even more visitors in Rwanda. The Gishwati-Mukura National Park chimpanzee and primate trekking experience will be one more great reason to visit Rwanda.”