What would you place more value on, a cow or a gorilla?
Chances are your response is 'gorilla'. But for people living near the gorilla parks, a cow is far more valuable, potentially life-changing. Benjamin Mugabukomeye, IGCP's Conservation Incentives Officer based in Musanze, Rwanda, sent in photographs from a ceremony yesterday (May 31, 2012) during which 100 cows were given to the poorest of Nyange and Kinigi Sectors near Volcanoes National Park.
Madame NYIRAMAJYAMBERE, who received a cow from SACOLA last year, welcomed participants including the guests of honor including the Governor of Northern Province and the Mayor of Musanze District.
The Sabyinyo Community Livelihoods Association (SACOLA) purchased these 100 cows (worth 60,000 USD) using revenue from Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, a luxury lodge owned by SACOLA. The International Gorilla Conservation Programme, along with our coalition member the African Wildlife Foundation, played a role in the initial development of the Lodge, facilitating the community-private partnership between SACOLA (the owners) and Governor's Camp (the managers), with funding to build the lodge coming from USAID. SACOLA includes every citizen of Nyange and Kinigi Sectors over the age of 18- over 50,000 men and women. To date, SACOLA has earned over 750,000 USD since Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge started welcoming tourists in 2007.
The Governor of Northern Province in Rwanda helps distribute cows to the selected beneficiaries.
IGCP continues to stay involved to support the further development of the SACOLA association and to help SACOLA make beneficiaries of their community development projects understand the link between the benefits they receive, in this case a cow, and the conservation of Volcanoes National Park and its mountain gorillas.
IGCP's Benjamin Mugabukomeye also assists in distributing the cows to beneficiaries. Benjamin is an active advisor to SACOLA and works to retain the connection between the community development projects and the conservation of mountain gorillas, therefore making these projects 'conservation incentives.
Anna serves as Communications Officer for IGCP. Originally from Iowa in the United States, she now calls the hills and volcanoes of the Greater Virunga region home. She is a conservationist at heart and by profession, and is thrilled to report on the amazing work of IGCP and partner organizations in the conservation of mountain gorillas.
AWF Blogs bring you to the African Heartlands, where conservation benefits both wildlife and people alike. The blogs are written by our staff - men and women who have dedicated their lives to Africa's wildlife, people and wild lands.