Nyungwe National Park’s Battle For Hearts

Nyungwe National Park is one of the few remaining pieces of truly wild land in Rwanda. As the most densely populated country in Africa outside of the island of Mauritius, preserving the remarkable biodiversity of the region is not without its challenges.

Sometime in 1999, there were no more elephants in Nyungwe, Rwanda. Until then, elephants had occupied the dense alpine rainforest for as long as anyone can remember. But then they were hunted to extinction, mainly by poachers, and the forest lost one of its important native inhabitants.

The elephants were not the first major disappearance of this ancient forest, which predates the last ice age.In 1974, it was thought that the The last remaining buffalo was killed, although the last recorded evidence was the tracks of a lone buffalo found in 1971.

The tuskless skull of the last elephant is on display at the humble Nyungwe National Park Visitor Centre as a reminder of death and extinction, as well as environmental The consequences of complacency. It’s also a reminder of a rebirth. If national park status had not been granted in 2005, there would have been no regulation or unified collective will to prevent more species from being Gone. Tourism will also decrease, and the money is often the difference.

Who needs gorillas?

The journey to Nyungwe is relatively simple, if not the most comfortable. From the capital, Kigali, it takes a journey across half the country. At no point does Rwanda seem to be flat or harsh, with hill after hill following every The undulations of the horizon greeted our bus.

Every inch of infinitely undulating land is plowed. No piece of land is fallow or empty. Many of the fields are farmed by hand, with coffee, wheat, beans and rice being the common crops. Few vehicles are seen. Thousands of people across the country travel by foot or bicycle along the roads.

The western side of the road is not a common tourist route, as visitors to Rwanda are usually interested in the northern Volcanoes National Park gorillas in droves. Diane Fossey would be rolling over in her Rwandan grave if she knew that so many people would be coming to see them now; she had a famous saying. Thinks all ecotourism has negative impacts. But her strong point is conservation, not preaching. Rarely could she have predicted the positive impact of ecotourism on the country and its economy.

While there are no gorillas in Nyungwe, the forest is home to 13 different species of primates, including several groups of chimpanzees. When the Rwandan government doubled the gorilla viewing permit fee to $1,500 in 2017, Nyungwe suddenly became the A great alternative wildlife experience at a fraction of the cost of a gorilla trek.


The road climbs dramatically to the edge of Ningwe National Park, which covers an area of 1,600-2,950 m (5,250-2,000 ft). (9679 feet) between. The common crop by the roadside now is tea. Vast, green fields stretch up and down the undulations of the land, occasionally interspersed with silvery eucalyptus bushes.

Like a wave crashing against a seawall, the tea plantations break out against the sissy forest, a deep, unspoiled The green, after the cultivation of the whole country, looked utterly incongruous. Villages ceased, and even the steady flow of people by the roadside diminished. Occasionally I catch glimpses of spectacular forest cliff teams, leading endlessly into the distance. Ancient primordial rainforests have existed here for thousands of years.

The visitor center at the national park is the only set of buildings for miles with no running water. Electricity is solar, but very little. My place was a tent that was pitched on an observation deck that looked out over the centuries-old forest canopy.

It wasn’t long before a loud bang outside my tent announced the arrival of a curious L’Hoest monkey. As soon as it saw me, it fled back to a nearby tree.L’Hoest’s monkeys are only found in this part of Africa, being Considered to be a fragile species. Their white whiskers and chestnut backs are endearing features, but it’s their piercing orange eyes that are most appealing.

As the cicadas hovered as the sun appeared, a troop of L’Hoest’s monkeys passed by, a female on a rocky resting on it, its baby clinging to its front, looking around at this strange new world.

The next day was a 10km (6.2 mile) hike in the rainforest and I was hoping to see something, anything big. Sadly, there were no mammals presented to us at all. I reminded myself that they weren’t there for their own gratification and felt that they were at least lucky to still have habitat. But this was not an uneventful exploration.

The forest was a constant roar of life, sometimes rising to a deafening pitch, then cascading away into a steady tremor of . In a place like this, every layer of the food chain is complex. Everything has its carefully arranged place in the ecosystem. And yet, the thought keeps coming back that some species are missing. As we reach a waterfall that feeds into a freshwater pond below, I wonder if elephants ever gather here to play with the water and quench their thirst.

Passing the messy remains of a long-vacant chimpanzee nest, we arrive at an area where birds are particularly abundant. As well as 75 species of mammals, Ningwe has 278 species of birds and 1,068 species of plants. A giant bird plunges from the canopy, bulky and heavy. It’s a black and white hornbill. After it screeched away, a Regal Sunbird displayed its magnificent feathers next to some flowering plants.

I asked my guide, Ronaldo, about poaching.” For many locals, there’s nothing wrong with hunting, it’s a natural part of their lives.” He said. People have always done it, and hunting was necessary for survival generations ago. Now it can be argued that it is no longer necessary. Rwanda Today mentions that wild boar and duiker (a small antelope) are still often hunted in the forest despite the law prohibiting it.

“It’s hard to break the habit,” said Ronaldo.” Try telling poor farmers who can’t afford good meat to stop doing what their fathers and grandfathers have been doing all their lives.”

Payment of protection money

It is possible that at least half of the land bordering Nungwe, Rwanda, has a population density of between 200 and 626 people per square kilometre. Where conflict occurs, it’s also an ungovernable border. The hope is that the increased tourism revenue will trickle down to local communities.

In 2016, about 10,000 people visited Nyungwe National Park. Only a paltry 5% of the money spent by tourists there reaches locals. Understandably, such a low amount does little to change hearts and minds. That 5% tends to go towards education (encouraging children to respect and protect nature), providing clean water so that people don’t have to venture into the Water from the forest is also used for beehives, leading local people to abandon the practice of sucking bees from natural beehives in the forest, which in the past had It leads to forest fires. Revenue may help curb the problem, but it’s not enough, and 1020 square kilometres of forest can’t be protected by that amount.

Since Nyungwe became a national park, plans to reintroduce elephants to the area have been slowly developed. 2009 In 2010, the Wildlife Conservation Society released a feasibility report suggesting that the elephants could be relocated to Nyungwe. However, concerns were raised about the safety of the elephants when they were released. The possibility of poaching is high. Another major possibility is so-called human-elephant contact, where elephants leave the forest cover at night in search of food and destroy farmland.

Either way, if planned, ensuring the safety of the animals is a huge task and can only be highlighted in relation to issues such as poaching. The scale of the struggle over issues.

A valuable resource

That night, I unzipped the tent and looked up at the sky. There was no light pollution for miles around, and the Milky Way was brilliant. Through the trees, a campfire burned softly in a clearing. This may well be one of Rwanda’s most precious resources, and as I breathed in the freshest air I was likely to find on earth, I listened to the The insect’s constant flapping sound, I thought as I did so.

Somewhere in that forested cluster of mountains, a shot rang out in the distance, echoing along the valley and escaping over the tree tops. A minute later, another shot rang out, then another. The entire forest fell silent. A few minutes later, when the phantom rhythm sounded again, the ancient forest was likely to be less of a creature drawing breath; more of a creature being A species pushed towards extinction; one more need to consider reintroduction options when it’s too late.

While it is good to see elephants roaming Nyungwe again, to make meaningful progress in conservation, Rwanda It may take more than tourism dollars and goodwill hopes to become a true ecotourism destination.

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