UNESCO commends Rwanda, where conservation is a national triumph. Rwanda’s green hills whisper stories of conservation, nurturing mountain gorillas back from the brink. UNESCO’s praise for Rwanda’s stewardship is well-deserved; their conservation efforts are a global benchmark. Rwanda, with UNESCO’s support, makes conservation a shared victory.
In 1980, only 250 mountain gorillas remained. Collaborative efforts involving national authorities, local communities, NGOs, and UNESCO have reversed this trend. Currently, there are over 1,000 mountain gorillas thriving in their natural habitat, and in 2018, they were removed from the endangered species list by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
This success reflects the importance of involving local communities in conservation strategies. Rwanda has embraced the UNESCO biosphere reserve model since 1983, reinvesting tourism revenue into the local community to support national parks and improve infrastructure, including hospitals and schools.
Azoulay emphasized that the ancestral knowledge and skills of local communities in protecting nature should be recognized and passed on, and UNESCO’s work extends to other regions where great apes reside, such as Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
UNESCO protects 900,000 hectares of mountain gorilla habitat in the Volcanoes Biosphere Reserve in Rwanda, the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda, and the Virunga Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Azoulay’s visit included meetings with authorities, scientists, forest rangers, and local community members, as well as participation in the Kwita Izina ceremony and a meeting with President Paul Kagame.
The successful preservation of mountain gorillas showcases the positive impact of collaboration, ethics, and biodiversity protection in conservation efforts.