Rwanda Development Board (RDB) has revealed that among special guests expected at the Kwita Izina 2018 is one player of the English Premier League team, Arsenal FC.
Under theme ‘Conservation is Life,’ the ceremony to give names to 23 infant gorillas will be held at the foothills of the National Volcano Park in Kinigi, Musanze District, on September 7.
Highlighting the roadmap for 2018 at a press conference at Kigali Convention and Exhibition Village, the RDB Chief Tourism Officer, Belise Kariza, said they will soon announce the special guests including at least one from Arsenal FC.
Rwanda-Arsenal ‘Visit Rwanda’ deal has ignited mixed views since its signing in May with some people criticising it for a developing country to sponsor one of the richest teams in the world while others congratulated Rwanda for a deal that will earn the country huge export earnings from tourism and foreign investments.
Kwita Izina, a uniquely Rwandan event, was introduced in 2005 with the aim of creating awareness of conservation efforts for the endangered mountain gorilla.
Kariza said that the increasing number of mountain gorillas in the Volcanoes National Park is proof of the strides that Rwanda has made in gorilla conservation, adding that it is a result of the support and collaboration of conservation partners and members of the community surrounding the park.
“The increase in the mountain gorilla population led the Government of Rwanda to institute a preliminary study on the possibility of expanding the Volcanoes National Park to ensure adequate habitat for the mountain gorilla. Today the park is 16,027.8 hectares,” she said, adding that earlier this year RDB received from the African Wildlife Foundation a 27-hectare land donation that will be used to expand the park.
Over the last nine years, revenues from mountain gorilla conservation and the resulting tourism has brought $ USD 107 million to the national coffers”
Activities ahead of Kwita Izina
Activities preceding the high level ceremony that usually features President Paul Kagame include the launch of community projects in Kitabi Sector of Nyamagabe District and Ndego Sector of Kayonza District on July 27 and September 5 respectively.
In Kitabi Sector RDB has constructed ten houses for residents who had formerly lived in the Nyungwe National Park buffer-zone. In Ndego Sector, residents of Karambi and Sangano villages will receive a mobile clinic, solar lighting systems and solar water pumps.
These community projects are part of the RDB Revenue Sharing Programme, initiated in 2005 by the Government of Rwanda to guide investment in the areas surrounding the various national parks in Rwanda by giving back to the community 10% of all park revenues.
Over $1.28 million has been distributed by RDB to more than 158 community-based projects which include,among others, clean drinking water, health centres, classrooms and housing to members of the communities living around the three national parks; namely Akagera National Park, Nyungwe National Park and Volcanoes National Park.
On the 4th and 5th September 2018, the ‘Conversation on Conservation’ (CoC) forum will take place alongside an exhibition focused on conservation trends and practices. The Conservation Exhibition will bring together tourism and conservation partners from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania to showcase conservation efforts and avail educational materials to the general public.
The CoC will bring together global conservation leaders, providing a unique platform linking conservation with sustainable tourism by embracing all layers of the value chain.
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 of 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.