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Gishwati-Mukura park sees surge in animal population

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The animal population in Gishwati-Mukura, the youngest national park in Rwanda, has grown since restoration efforts of the biosphere began in 2014.

Official data from park management shows that the chimpanzee population grew to 36 in 2023 from 13 in 2008, and a 2018 study revealed that the biosphere houses 174 endangered golden monkeys.

This research is carried out every five years.

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In 2015, the population of golden monkeys, considered the flagship species of the park, was 100, while a recent unpublished study estimates the mountain monkey population at 200 individuals.

Both golden monkeys and chimpanzees are endangered animals that are expected to become important attractions for tourism in Gishwati-Mukura National Park once they are habituated.

The park currently provides a ‘park experience’ while habituating wild animals to ensure they become familiar to human visitors and tourists attracted by activities such as hiking, nature walks, birding, and trekking.

Thierry Aimable Inzirayineza, National Coordinator for Forest of Hope, oversees reforestation and conservation efforts in the Gishwati-Mukura landscape, which have led to a significant increase in wildlife populations.

“We are seeing animal population growth considerably increase as a result of conservation efforts put in place to protect the landscape; the forest is growing and is well-protected. It is in favourable conditions for wild animals to reproduce,” he said.

The park is home to a number of threatened species including: eastern chimpanzees; golden monkeys; mountain monkeys and more than 232 species of birds including 20 that are endemic to the Albertine Rift.

This region spans parts of Uganda, Rwanda, DR Congo, Tanzania, and Burundi.

Inzirayineza explained that chimpanzees take up to four or five years to reproduce, which is why their numbers may appear small compared to other wild animal species in the park.

“Their reproduction is not low based on their nature of behaviors. They take too long to reproduce, up to five years,” he added.

Gishwati-Mukura park sees surge in animal population
Gishwati-Mukura park

According to Télesphore Ngoga, Conservation Analyst at Rwanda Development Board (RDB), the restoration process of the Gishwati-Mukura landscape is at 80-90 per cent.

Gishwati-Mukura became Rwanda’s fourth national park in 2016 and was designated as a World Network of Biosphere Reserves by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on October 28, 2020, following the approval of the Volcanoes Biosphere Reserve in 1983.

The New Times

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