Tag Archives: Albertine rift

Don’t Forget this Treasure-Albertine Rift

The old wise men from my ancestral community say “however faster you run, you can never be faster than your mother; the stones that support her cooking pot will always call you back” The Albertine rift now remains a source of sweet, important essentials for both humans and nature. These goods are in the form of the ecosystem services that are supplied from the abundance and variety of the Albertine rift resources.

           

Stepe Buzzard                                                                                                                 Red Backed Shrike

As you may realize, the “Albertine Rift Birds” have been silent for some time. Just like all birds, they had migrated briefly but in unusual way! I too followed them. Where “we were and what we did will come in the subsequent blogs! But for now, I just wish to tell you we are back!

Masumi and Victor have escorted me to Rwanda via Uganda. The journey had a number of exciting things but did not miss challenges. We went through Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Institute of Tropical Forestry Research Centre at Ruhija where we spent the last night in Uganda. If you have not been here, please purpose to before the end of the “forest” (or is it world). It is a wonderful place in many ways. As we came down from Ruhija research station, we clearly show the tips of Muvura, Murabura, Karisimbi and Sabinyo mountains. From the local people, Sabinyo means an old man’s teeth. It is the most beautiful mountain with a number of crater lakes at the top. There is no better way to understand why this beautiful country is called the “pearl of Africa”.

                    
Victor, Masumi and Enoch, Albertine rift support team                Habib, our Cab Driver

Habib, our taxi driver managed to drive us safely down the mountain to Kabale and to the Uganda-Rwanda Border. In the country of a thousand hills, we spent a week meeting various conservation organizations who are prospective partners with WildlifeDirect. The ACNR team was already out at Lake Rweru on a waterbird monitoring excercise.

Working with communities to conserve IBAs

Albertine Rift/Rwanda

Bite…Muraho? Bite (read ‘bee teh’) is the general greeting in this wonderful, small East African country. This means the country has only one local language (Kinyarwanda) and I belief this makes it the largest language group in Africa, if not in the world. This is totally different from PNG where there are more than a thousand languages dividing a population of about 6 million people into as many ethnic groups.

ACNR with support from BirdLife international and regional partners has been working on the establishment and gazetting of Important Bird Areas (IBAs). The IBAs are areas with unique characteristics and support the existence of bird species. The criteria for qualifying an area as an IBA has been developed by BirdLife international.

One of such site support groups is the Inyange site support group. This group, living along the wetlands of Nyabarongo, is the most effective. The Nyabarongo wetlands have been identified as one of the most special IBAs in the great lakes region. The wetland runs through the country of Rwanda from the west, through the central Kigali city province to the southern region where it joins the Akagera marshland before extending to Tanzania. The Nyabarongo wetland which drains the wetland joins the Akagera River before draining into Lake Victoria. These two rivers form the greatest proportion of the water entering Lake Victoria (46%) during the wet seasons. By extension, the wetland is believed to be a major source of the River Nile.

ACNR is working with communities to establish community based organisations to manage the environment for sustainable livelihoods. Such organisations include SSGs and school based nature clubs. Mugesera (Bugesera) and St. Marie (Karongi) are examples.

They employ a strategy of empowering these groups to establish sustainable livelihoods based on enterprises using local natural resources.

They work with the CBOs to create awareness aimed at strengthening environmental education programmes and inform the communities on the value and wise use of natural resources, incorporating indigenous knowledge and local value systems.

They lobby the appropriate service providers including marketing and research institutions to work with the CBOs to make their enterprises sustainable.

Inyange SSG has been very active. Recently they have demonstrated that resources in the wetlands can be protected for improved livelihoods. ACNR has identified a number of areas in which the IBA site support group needs help to be fully funtional and well resourced. Let’s read about their general activities in the next issues….

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Introducing ACNR Rwanda

Here comes Enoch Ontiri, Introducing conservation work in Rwanda.

The Kisii highlands are beautiful to look and very nice to visit and even stay. The whole of Kenya where I grew up is just fantastic. But all these did not stop me from going to Papua New Guinea where to work in nature conservation. I volunteered with VSO, attached to a World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) project. I had to extend my stay there for another one year for many reasons. The transfly wetlands in Papua New Guinea are great habitat with rich biodiversity. The culture of the people there is very interesting too. Conservation work is just but trying to protect the largely intact natural habitats. I am sure I will go back many years in future and see much of the nature intact and most people’s live much improved, courtesy of WWF’s work and ongoing commitment to support communities to conserve their resources.

Now, let me take you to Rwanda, a country of a thousand hills….

In the rural areas of Rwanda, people are struggling to get their daily bread from their immediate surrounding! In a country that is recovering from the worst calamities, the 1994 genocide and the after mats, people are faced with serious challenges of poverty but most important, lack of appropriate information.

Rwanda is a small country in East Africa measuring 26,338 square kilometers with a human population of about 10 million. 47 % of the land is used for agricultural purposes, 18% pasture and 22% is forest. Within this classification of forests fall the national parks and nature parks of Nyungwe, Akagera and Volcanoes. The national parks are home to Antelopes, Zebras, Buffalos, Giraffes, Golden monkeys, Chimpanzees, mountain Gorillas, Golden cats, giant forest hog, duiker, and sitatunga among others. There are about 670 recorded species of birds also. The country has some of the major wetlands forming part of the source of the river Nile.

The country, popularly known as “country of a thousand hills” is faced with very complex environment and natural resource conservation challenges. The greatest component of the challenges is the high ever increasing human population. The population growth rate is the highest in the region and there are also a big number of returnees who the government has to provide for. There have been a number of attempts to convert the forest land into farming/human settlements in the recent years. The hilly landscapes are fast loosing the top soil layer through erosion. This is aggravated by overstocking and poor cultivation methods. It is so bad because many people here don’t realize that Environmental challenges both underpin and define all aspects of human development, from economic development to health to food security.

Tomorrow, I will tell you about Association Pour conservation du la Nature au Rwanda, the organisation that I work with.