Rwanda

Conservation finance creates opportunities for biodiversity protection

Smallholder farmers make up more than 60 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s total population, according to a 2019 McKinsey & Company report. These small-scale producers own less than five hectares each, but collectively hold most of the arable land in the region. Investment in this sector will undoubtedly increase productivity, which experts signal as the “biggest growth driver” and the answer to food insecurity.

Reason #70 to get involved

AWF protects nearly 40 % of Africa's elephants. Support our programs to stop elephant poaching and ivory trafficking.

Mountain Gorilla Rangers

Fewer than 900 mountain gorillas exist today.

Mountain gorillas remain exceedingly endangered and live in only one area—the Virunga Heartland. This landscape spans the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, and Uganda and is often threatened by civil unrest and violence. As a result, gorillas face threats from not only poaching, habitat loss, and fractured populations, but also from residual upheaval from human conflicts. 

Student Gorilla Trek

Wildlife permits are too expensive for native Rwandans. 

Despite living so close to the magnificent mountain gorilla, many Rwandans lack the ability to fully engage with and experience the world around them. The high price of a permit (US$35, now US$50) prevents many from being able to see the mountain gorillas that live exclusively in Central Africa. As a result, only tourists see the majesty of local protected areas. 

Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge

Mountain gorillas are in danger of extinction.

In the Virunga Mountains of Rwanda, tourists pay top dollar for the privilege of tracking mountain gorillas. Mountain gorillas are a majestic but critically endangered species that are threatened by poaching, habitat loss, and human-wildlife conflict. When local communities benefit from this tourism, however, they have more incentive to protect gorillas and other wildlife.

African Apes Initiative

All of Africa’s great ape species are either endangered or critically endangered.

Africa is home to four of the world’s five great apes: the bonobo, chimpanzee, and two species of gorilla—the eastern and western. Unfortunately, all of these apes are facing extinction due to a number of threats, including habitat destruction and fragmentation, poaching, the risk of disease transfer from humans, and the pet trade.

Rwanda

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.

This mountain gorilla lodge is saving Rwanda’s great apes

The Virunga Massif is a vestige of Central Africa’s tropical biodiversity but myriad threats are placing the region’s critical ecosystems and species at risk. Spanning Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga National Park, the massif is home to the endangered mountain gorilla, one of the world’s largest and most threatened primates. Though their habitats are secured within national parks, these great apes have historically been killed by poachers and threatened with human encroachment into protected forests as civil strife uprooted the landscape.

In the early 1980s, mountain gorilla numbers in the Virunga Massif area (not including the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest populations) were as few as 230 individuals.

Endangered mountain gorillas find a safe haven in Africa’s oldest park

Within its modest acreage, Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park packs five of the eight volcanoes that make up the majestic Virunga Mountains, a haven for the critically endangered mountain gorilla. Families of this great ape are scattered across the transboundary mountain range between Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Uganda — but more than half are found in Volcanoes.