Nyungwe National Park has been identified as the habitat of a number of globally threatened species, including the African Golden Cat which is classified as vulnerable by the IUCN Red List. Disconnecting the local community from this forest by providing alternatives source of income to improve livelihoods and the well-being of local communities, and awareness raising have been identified by the local community as the best way to promote conservation in Gatare and Nkomane sectors adjacent to the park.
This small-scale pig farming project will be extended to other identified ex-poacher cooperatives and families in Nkomane and Gatare sectors on a large scale to improve their livelihood through creating alternative sources of income to reduce threats to the park and its threatened biodiversity, specifically poaching for bushmeat and park encroachment. In addition, Nature Rwanda will also continue to empower local communities for the conservation of the park.
“We have been hunting to survive” stated Charles Habimana from Gatare sector during the assessment, “but now that we are provided with pigs to improve our wellbeing, it will reduce our dependency on the forest and contribute to its conservation” he concluded. “In case we find similar projects that provide livestock while creating work opportunities, we will not return to the forest at all!” concluded Immaculée Nyirakwitambi, a citizen of the Gatare sector.
According to the survey conducted by Nature Rwanda in November 2022, this region is highly populated with 3-6 people per household and the majority of them rely on resources from the forest to survive on a daily basis ranging from firewood to hunting through agriculture encroachment. This initiative provides an opportunity to address some of the above conservation challenges identified in the area by the local community. However, more effort is needed to create job opportunities and mindset shifting for sustainable conservation of the forest and its biodiversity.
About the African Golden Cat Conservation Alliance and Working Group.
The African Golden Cat Conservation Alliance and Working Group (AGCCA & WG)’s vision is to be a force multiplier that brings in-country conservation practitioners, their local communities, nongovernmental organizations, and national wildlife authorities to scale up scientifically sound conservation activities across the geographical range of the African golden cat where human threats to the species (and other wildlife) are rife. The AGCCA & WG has 26 in-country passionate conservation leaders in 19 countries of the African golden cat range.