The impressive speed and scale of vaccine roll-outs are reviving our hopes of welcoming guests to our camps in the coming high season – and with the excellent rains behind us, the bush should be looking more spectacular than ever. Added to that, the exciting news we have to share about our new project in Gishwati, Rwanda, fills us with hope, not only for this forest, but renewed hope for travel as a whole.
You can learn more about our pioneering vision of reforestation and community partnership by visiting our camps in Rwanda. This itinerary offers a comprehensive, one-country East African safari, encompassing not just gorillas, but all the big game you can imagine.
Our latest project in Rwanda, centres around the expansion and reforestation of Gishwati-Mukura National Park in the west of the country. Home to an isolated group of about 35 chimpanzees, Gishwati Forest has lost 98% of its area since the 1970s, resulting in severe environmental degradation, including landslides, erosion, loss of biodiversity, flooding and silted rivers, causing a loss of livelihood in local and downstream communities.
In 2019, Wilderness purchased 10 hectares of land on the border of the national park, which, in time, will be donated to the park. With our partners Forest of Hope Association and the Rwanda Development Board, we founded a nursery that has already propagated 10 000 saplings. All the trees in the nursery are found naturally in Gishwati Forest and, with some 9 679 already planted, will quickly contribute to the restoration of habitat for the birds and wildlife, including the eastern chimpanzee and Endangered golden monkey.
Working with local trackers, we have also initiated a monitoring and habituation programme for the resident chimpanzee population. Not only will this help us to understand and protect these animals, but, in time, we aim to develop a chimpanzee-based tourism offering in Gishwati. Through our proven conservation tourism model, we believe that this precious forest and its wildlife can be protected and expanded, and deliver tangible benefits to the people of the region.
If you’d like to join us in this exciting initiative through helping acquire more land for the park, or assisting the reforestation efforts, please feel free to get in touch with us for more information.
By Dr Neil Midlane, Wilderness Group Impact Manager