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Rwanda conservation effort to link isolated chimps to distant forest
Date:3/17/2008

uality as well as the isolation of a small population of chimpanzees.

A team from Great Ape Trust and Earthpark toured the Gishwati region in late 2007, hosted by representatives from the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) and Rwanda National Forestry Authority (NAFA). Meetings with MINITERE, REMA, NAFA, the Rwandan Office for Tourism and National Parks (ORTPN), the National University of Rwanda, the Wildlife Conservation Society and Great Ape Trust, resulted in four goals for the Gishwati project:

  • Create Rwanda National Conservation Park, defined as conservation of biodiversity in an extensively degraded landscape, populated with low-income, small-scale agriculturalists.

  • Restore ecosystem services in the form of improved water quality, reduced soil erosion and flooding, fewer landslides and increased sequestration of carbon.

  • Restore natural biodiversity with special emphasis on chimpanzees as a keystone and flagship species.

  • Generate income through ecotourism, investment opportunity and local employment.

We must of course find ways to adequately and sustainably compensate people whose agricultural productivity is decreased by reforestation, Beck added. One answer will be a new ecotourism destination resulting in employment opportunities as trackers and forest managers.

The next step for the Rwandan National Conservation Park project is to hire a program coordinator. Candidates for the position will be interviewed in Kigali this month by Dr. Beck. Subsequent steps proposed for 2008 include:

  • Begin a study of the behavioral ecology of the Gishwati chimpanzee population to determine population size, resource and space use, patterns of social and reproductive behavior, degree of genetic relatedness, patterns of tool use and communication, health and nutritional status and degree of human conflict.

  • Expand the existing Gishwati core forest b
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Contact: Al Setka
asetka@greatapetrust.org
515-243-3580
Great Ape Trust of Iowa
Source:Eurekalert

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