Rwanda and Burundi have agreed to protect a large tract of tropical mountain forest that is home to chimpanzees, rare owl-faced monkeys, and other wildlife.
The deal was brokered by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).
“We commend Rwanda and Burundi for collaborating to protect and conserve these vulnerable species, which both nations have the privilege to share,” said Dr. Steven E. Sanderson, President and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society. “Trans-boundary conservation offers unique challenges, but also unique opportunities to safeguard wildlife on a regional, international scale. Burundi and Rwanda are clearly leading the way in Eastern Africa on this front.”
Wild chimpanzee in Uganda. Photo by Rhett A. Butler
The agreement will help improve conservation in Rwanda’s Nyungwe National Park and Burundi’s Kibira National Park, which house the largest remaining tract of montain forest in East Africa. WCS says the Nyungwe-Kibira Landscape is “considered the most wildlife-rich ecosystem in the entire Albertine Rift – a network of valleys in Uganda, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Tanzania that lie alongside some of Africa’s largest mountain ranges. The rift itself is considered one of Africa’s most important areas for conservation.”
Both Rwanda and Burundi have little remaining forest cover. That which remains is threatened by subsistence agriculture and fuelwood collection as well as gold and coltan (used in mobile phones) mining.