Gorilla habitat restoration in Rwanda


Vince Shacks


Sharing profits to save the mountain gorilla

Rwanda’s mountain gorillas are critically endangered. Through partnerships and collaboration, we are protecting their habitat and building more sustainable communities.


By employing local people, in partnership with the SACOLA Community Trust, Wilderness Bisate has been able to provide alternative sources of income, empowering communities to decrease dependence on subsistence agriculture, and supporting gorilla conservation efforts.


Protecting the habitat of mountain gorillas while building more sustainable communities.

The problem

Expanded agricultural land has led to deforestation which threatens the mountain gorilla’s habitat.

The cause

Lack of economic opportunities reduces food security for households who rely on subsistence farming.

The solution

Profit sharing agreements create jobs, improves infrastructure and rehabilitates habitats.

Our approach to solving it

Volcanoes National Park is home to one of two remaining populations of the endangered mountain gorillas. The 160-square kilometre transboundary park supports one of only two remaining endangered mountain gorilla populations. The park is isolated and small and can’t sufficiently support the habitats of the gorillas and other wildlife. With few economic opportunities to support local incomes, communities living around the park have expanded agricultural land to improve household food security. This and other human activity has also dramatically increased deforestation over three decades.


  • Using high-end tourism as a lever, Wilderness Bisate has created jobs for local people living around the park, providing a more sustainable livelihood and reducing dependence on subsistence farming.
  • SACOLA Community Trust owns Wilderness Sabyinyo, which earns the trust revenue through rental income and profit-shares. SACOLA uses these funds to drive socio-economic development in the Kinigi and Inyange sectors adjacent to Volcanoes National Park.
  • The Trust has also created additional services and construction roles, providing basic services for the lodge to generate additional revenue.
  • Over 88 000 indigenous trees have been planted adjacent to the national park, expanding habitats and attracting wild species into these new areas. The reforestation project plants trees and manages habitat rehabilitation around the park.
  • A health centre has been built and medical insurance premiums have been paid for many of the community members.
  • Micro-finance and micro-enterprise projects have been initiated and funded to support dairy, pigs, poultry, bee-keeping, carpentry and fruit-growing businesses.

High-end tourism is a lever for creating sustainable economic opportunities that empower local communities and support the partnerships required to protect critically endangered gorilla populations.


Volcanoes National Park:
Beautiful, diverse and iconic wildlife

Explore Volcanoes National Park

Our results and progress

The project is delivering remarkable results, resulting in improved infrastructure to support communities and creating a better quality of life for the people who live there. Progress has been made in terms of education, power supply, housing, water supply and health care, as well as business support and reforesting efforts. Here’s a snapshot of what’s been achieved through these crucial partnerships:


  • 8 schools and 64 classrooms built
  • 12 km of road rehabilitated and 16 bridges constructed
  • 5 800 homes have been connected to power
  • 2 villages and over 70 homes have been built

Help us make a difference

Support our project

Our projects focus on specific activities that we believe will help us make a real, lasting impact. It’s all about low-impact tourism with high-impact outcomes. Help us reach our goals by donating via Empowers Africa – a US based, cost-effective solution to fundraising.