13 Jul 2018
Influence of Food Availability on the Distribution of the Eastern Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) in Nyungwe Forest National Park (NNP), Rwanda
Promoting Conservation of the Eastern Chimpanzees of Nyungwe National Park through Creating Income Generating Activities (IGAs) to its Surrounding Communities
Engaging and Empowering Communities for Sustainable Wildlife Management and Biodiversity Conservation of Nyungwe National Park (NNP), Rwanda
Rwandan tourism industry is the ﬁrst to sustain economic development where chimpanzees are among the top animals to attract tourists. Despite this indisputable role, chimpanzees are facing dramatic decline due to insufficient education and communities’ awareness. This is why this project was proposed and it aims at contributing efficiently at the long term conservation of chimpanzees especially Gisovu group which is being habituated.
This project will also help the Rwanda Development Board (RDB); which is an entity in charge of national protected areas management to know what are the basic knowledge and perceptions of surrounding communities towards chimpanzees importance and conservation and their expectations once tourism will be started at this site for long term monitoring, conservation and management of chimpanzees population at this site. The project outcomes will also serve as a baseline document for the development of the tourism development plan of Gisovu site.
This project through education and raising community awareness will be carried out in the two sectors namely Mutuntu and Twumba adjacent to the NNP precisely at Gisovu site situated at the northern part of the park.
This site with approximately 50 Km2 hosts 25 to 30 semi habituated chimpanzees and is one of three sites of the park that host chimpanzee communities.
Gisovu site’s chimpanzees are facing various threats mainly caused by anthropogenic activities due to the poor knowledge and insufficient community awareness.
It is in this regards this project was proposed for sustainable conservation of this charismatic species through educating and raising awareness within different community groups living around this site.
The origin of this work rooted from the conversations I had with local communities when I was conducting my previous research in Nyungwe National Park precisely at Gisovu site. I have found that chimpanzees were facing food scarcity where anthropogenic activities like illegal tree cutting of the young trees and some branches of the plant species that serve as chimpanzees’ food sources was observed. I have asked some communities who are behind this illegal activity and they told me that the trees are being cut by local communities mainly for agricultural purpose like using them as support for their climbing beans, passion fruits or tomatoes. I realized that the root cause is poor education and awareness raising on how communities are threatening chimpanzees because for them (communities), they think that threatening chimpanzees is only poaching them and they don’t think that they are threatening chimpanzees when they cut trees in the species habitat while the species are free to move everywhere in the forest as they want.
So, we saw that education and awareness raising are urgently needed before we think about helping these surrounding communities in getting other possible alternative solutions to save this charismatic but endangered species at this site for its sustainable conservation and economic development of our country.
This project is intended to promote the conservation of the chimpanzee of NNP precisely at Gisovu site through education, community awareness raising, creating synergies among local authorities, researchers and communities towards sustainable conservation of the chimpanzees around Gisovu site and adopting possible alternative measures to protect plant species that serve as chimpanzees’ food sources and habitat.