Rwanda

Rwanda

LAND

Quick Facts:

Land
Area

2,633,800 hectares (26,338 sq. km.) (10,169 sq. mi.)

In the Field
Key Landmarks

Lake Kivu
Volcanoes National Park
Nyungwe National Park

Animals
Wildlife

Mountain gorilla, chimpanzee, colobus monkey, giraffe, elephant

Primary Ecosystems
Primary Ecosystems

Savanna, tropical and subtropical forest

Population
Population

12,208,407 (2017)

Overview

African Wildlife Foundation in partnership with the Government of Rwanda and Rwanda Development Board has expanded Africa’s oldest park for the first time in 30 years.

The 27.8-hectare of donated land is adjacent to Volcanoes National Park and is the narrowest part of the park in an area where endangered mountain gorillas often wander across the park boundary, which increases the risk of human-gorilla conflict and the danger of exposure to deadly disease.

Just over 1,000 mountain gorillas remain in the world today, and they are found only in two regions — the Virunga Massif where Volcanoes National Park is located and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. AWF has been supporting mountain gorillas in Rwanda for almost four decades and was a founding member of the International Gorilla Conservation Program, a coalition formed in 1991 to address the severe threat to endangered apes. Despite their endangered status, mountain gorillas are the only great ape increasing in population, and habitat expansion is critical to sustaining population growth.

Challenges

Wildlife populations are shrinking while human populations continue to expand at alarming rates.

Rwanda is still continuing to rebuild long after a decade of war. Aside from improving its infrastructure, Rwanda is also challenged by being one of the most densely populated countries in all of Africa. With more than 12 million people and growing, nearly 40 percent of Rwanda’s population is comprised of youth under the age of 15.

Most people live in rural areas in poverty, resulting in pressures to convert protected areas into farmland and causing deforestation, as people exploit forest products like bamboo or firewood for fuel.

Rampant poaching persists until extinction.

Rampant poaching of small mammals is a new challenge. Previously, poachers targeted large mammals. But, due to the extinction of buffalo and the elephants in Nyungwe National Park, they have moved on to giant rats and squirrels. People have also destroyed hills and trees after setting fires that spread while they attempted to smoke bees from wild hives.

Solutions

Our solutions to protecting Rwanda's unique biodiversity:

Primary Ecosystems
Expanding critical mountain gorilla habitat to provide safe spaces for growing gorilla populations.

African Wildlife Foundation in partnership with the Government of Rwanda and Rwanda Development Board has expanded Africa’s oldest park for the first time in 30 years.

The 27.8-hectare of donated land is adjacent to Volcanoes National Park and is the narrowest part of the park in an area where endangered mountain gorillas often wander across the park boundary, which increases the risk of human-gorilla conflict and the danger of exposure to deadly disease.

Just over 1,000 mountain gorillas remain in the world today, and they are found only in two regions — the Virunga Massif where Volcanoes National Park is located and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. AWF has been supporting mountain gorillas in Rwanda for almost four decades and was a founding member of the International Gorilla Conservation Program, a coalition formed in 1991 to address the severe threat to endangered apes. Despite their endangered status, mountain gorillas are the only great ape increasing in population, and habitat expansion is critical to sustaining population growth.

Economic Development
Community-owned lodge improves livelihoods and gorilla conservation.

In 2007 AWF developed the first luxury community-owned lodge in Rwanda — Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge. Since the lodge opened, it has generated millions of dollars for the community, which has resulted in livelihood improvements and has revealed the important role wildlife plays in communities well-being empowering them to engage in conservation.