Sources at the Rwanda Development Board Tourism and Conservation, have confirmed that they can now start to process claims for loss of property, damages and injuries by people living near national parks, should they suffer from marauding wildlife. The Rwandan government has last week set up a special trust fund which will be used by RDB to deal with legitimate and verified claims, of which several hundred are said to be pending already awaiting decisions as to the level of compensation now due to affected individuals and communities.
17 such cases are from the Parc de Volcanoes which is partly secured by a metre high perimeter wall separating the park from the neighbouring farms, twice as many 34 in total from the Nyungwe Forest National Park neighbourhood but a staggering 306 from Akagera National Park, although a future reduction is anticipated there when the electric fence is fully installed.
Said Rica Rwigamba, Head of the Tourism and Conservation Department at RDB: This was really a worrying issue for us. In Rwanda we look at conservation in a holistic approach, hence we put coexistence between communities and wildlife at the core of our activities. We are confident that this [latest development of creating the fund] will further enhance the fruitful cooperation that we have built over the years with communities around the protected areas.
Existing laws and regulations also require that 5 percent of the gate revenues are to be channeled back into the communities and every year, when the naming ceremony of the gorillas is taking place this year Kwita Izina will be celebrated on the 16th of June are new projects inaugurated by RDB Tourism and Conservation, bringing water to communities and supporting health, education and community centres benefitting all instead of a few.
Rwanda once again taking the lead in the wider region where human wildlife conflict is on the increase and where only sensible common sense solutions can mitigate the effects of protecting wildlife vis a vis protecting human populations.