To most Rwandans, the Volcanoes National Park is evidence of beauty and source of tourism revenues to the national treasury. To the residents of the Kinigi sector, Musanze District—right at the edge of the national park —this park is “everything.”
A vital home for critically endangered great apes, the Dja Faunal Reserve benefits from a community-centered conservation strategy as development stems an upswing in human activity around the protected area and buffer zones.
Following years of social turmoil and civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, people living along the banks of the Congo and Maringa Rivers had few economic opportunities. When African Wildlife Foundation began working in the Lomako landscape in 2003, the organization prioritized local livelihood improvement via sustainable agriculture production as a critical necessity for conservation.
Not only are carnivores critical to the long-term viability of ecosystems, their presence is also a strong indicator of healthy prey populations. As they face a combination of threats — retaliatory killings by livestock keepers, declining prey base, habitat decline and human conflict — conserving ecologically viable and functional populations of large carnivores in their natural habitats is paramount but challenging.
With the planet’s human population projected to reach 9 billion by 2050, the demand for arable land to produce food, fuel and fiber is on the rise. Many look to Africa to meet this demand, viewing the continent as replete with vast expanses of unused land.