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|The highlights of the park activities in 2022 across five pillars of park management. One of the most impactful stories of 2022 was the engagement of 92 eco rangers; members of the surrounding community who renounced poaching to collaborate with the park’s community development and law enforcement departments in daily activities of awareness and anti-poaching patrols. In 2022 the eco rangershave contributed to the removal of 60% of all the poachers’ snares from the forest, and at the same time have improved the livelihood of their families through the monthly compensation for their work.Read the full highlights below across all of Nyungwe’s key five pillars which are Law Enforcement, Biodiversity Conservation, Community Engagement, Tourism and Enterprise, and Management and Infrastructure development.|
Education. In total, 185 community environmental awareness meetings were held in 2022 reaching over 30,249 community members and local leaders, while the conservation awareness message communicated during the Colobus Cup football competition organized for the 24 administrative sectors around the park has reached 25,000 participants.
As part of the community engagement, 1,595 children from school environmental clubs and 56 local leaders were facilitated to carry out conservation awareness visits; children and local leaders enjoyed a day in the park’s canopy work.
Engagement. One higher-level stakeholder meeting was held with the Governors of the two Provinces (Western and Southern) and the mayors of the five contiguous administrative Districts with two main objectives: having an update on the park management, and harmonizing the plan for tourism opportunities outside the park boundaries, resulting from the new Tourism Development Plan for Nyungwe.
Economy (Enterprise). Community benefits totalled $521,344 including 34% as local employment (only through community cooperatives; without the locally contracted staff), 48% as local purchases made within the neighbouring 5 administrative districts, and 17 % as the contribution to the community funds (Tourism Revenue Sharing Scheme and the Special Guarantee Fund that compensates community losses due to wildlife).
Moreover, the Nyungwe Community Liaison Teams continue to raise awareness of the adoption of modern beekeeping in the local community to bring efficient beekeeping. A demo apiary was constructed near the current Park Headquarters and has been so far populated by 195 hives.
|1595 students visited the park and 185 community meetings were held in 2022.|
Hill’s horseshoe bat. The Hill’s horseshoe bat is endemic to Nyungwe and listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List. The species was rediscovered in Nyungwe in 2019 after 40 years. The 2022 expedition successfully caught a single female bat and fitted her with a VHF radio tag, allowing the team to follow her to a roosting site. Nine total bats were found to be using the roost, the first ever roost observed by scientists. This landmark discovery complements extensive acoustic monitoring of the species across the park. Plans for 2023 include continued acoustic monitoring and DNA work with the bats’ guano to better understand their diet. This work is done in collaboration with Bat Conservation International and Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association.
The removal of exotic and invasive plant species. An area of 19 hectares was mapped along accessed roads, Gisovu, Gisakura, and Cyamudongo sites: the area was cleared of exotics trees and weeds using various methodologies (uprooting seedlings and small trees/shrubs, cutting trees/shrubs, and debarking tree stumps). Other sites such as Uwasenkoko, Bweyeye, and Rangiro were also mapped and will be cleared of exotic and invasive plants in 2023.
Tree seedling nurseries. The park-supported nurseries have propagated 36,604 seedlings of different indigenous forest tree species, with the aim of using them for restoration projects in degraded parts of the forest, as well as promoting indigenous tree propagation in forestry and agroforestry. Using the seedlings from these nurseries, two hectares of forest that were degraded by agricultural encroachment near Banda Village were jointly reforested by park staff, eco-rangers and community members.
Eight GSM Camera traps have been deployed across Nyungwe as part of the park’s research and law enforcement activities. Cameras allow researchers to detect and monitor cryptic and hard-to-find species, as well as gather more information on key species without disrupting behavior. Systematic camera trapping also informs researchers about the distribution of species in the forest. Cameras in 2022 captured thousands of photos of chimpanzees, monkeys, duikers, and small carnivores, including serval cats and civets.
Primate habituation. Three communities of chimpanzees (Cyamudongo, Mayebe, and Gisovu) and three groups of Colobus Monkeys (Gisovu, Uwinka and Gisakura) were habituated last year and data on primates under habituation were regularly and digitally collected, and instantly accessed through EarthRanger.
Nyungwe road usage. The use of roads around the park was monitored to assess the impact of motorists on wildlife, resulting in sufficient data to enforce better road use. From January to December, 150 animals (24 primates, 7 duikers, 41 reptiles, 56 other mammals, and 22 birds) were killed by vehicles. Moreover, between June and November alone, 4,050 kg of litter left behind by road users were collected, separated and disposed off by the park management. On average, 700kg of such litter is collected each month.
|Three communities of chimpanzees and three groups of Colobus monkeys were habituated last year. Photos: Drew Bantlin and Gael RVW.|
|Management & Infrastructure|
Best taxpayer of 2022. As a result of continued tax compliance, Nyungwe Management Company LTD (NMC) was thus awarded by the Rwanda Revenue Authority as the best taxpayer in the Western Province of Rwanda.
Nyungwe staff. The headcount of NMC contracted employees increased from 215 staff to 260: key recruitments include the Conservation and Research Assistant Manager, the Assistant Hospitality Manager, 20 new rangers, staff for the newly built coffee shops, as well as the community development team. Community temporary workers increased in number from 100 to 463. The latter are given temporary employment through cooperatives on the company’s needs basis.
Nyungwe shops and guest houses and walking trails. 2022 saw the construction of two coffee shops (Gisakura and Uwinka), the construction of Gisakura and the renovation of Uwinka campsites, and the completion of Gisovu and Uwinka guest houses. The walking trails were maintained throughout the year by a community cooperative called Tubungabunge Ibidukikije Cooperative based at Cyamudongo village.
|Tourism and Enterprise|
Tourism revenue and visitor numbers. Last year saw 21,564 guests visiting the park (among whom 21,111 are paying visitors), comprised of 35% of Rwandans and 56% Internationals. This represents an increase of 128.5% on last year’s number of visitors (9,434). The paying visitors generated a gross income of over $770,000 which is a surplus of 108% to the original target of 2022 ($374,998).
Tourism shops, campsites, and guesthouses. Uwinka and Gisakura coffee and retail shops were opened in 2022. Last year also saw the completion of guesthouses at Gisovu and Uwinka. The guest houses will accommodate guests travelling and staying overnight in Nyungwe Park. The renovations of the Uwinka campsite and the construction of the new campsite at Gisakura were completed and they are open to visitors.
Things to look forward to in 2023. Munazi Eco-lodge, Kamiranzovu 3-day walk and camping and the zipline.
|Tourism shops, campsites, and guesthouses were opened in 2022.|
Anti-poaching ranger patrols. In 2022 rangers conducted daily patrols that resulted in 1145 arrests (including 19 illegal miners, 60 tree cutters, and 30 poachers, while the majority were livestock fodder collectors and firewood gatherers), and 10,431 snares removed from the park compared to 6,640 snares removed in 2021.
The increase in the number of removed snares is largely attributed to the increase in patrol effort resulting from the recruitment and engagement of 92 eco-rangers in monthly ranger patrols who join rangers for 10 days each month and have largely contributed to the deterrence and prevention of poaching activities and in snare removal.
New Rangers. Last year saw 20 new park rangers joining Nyungwe Management Company following an intensive eight-week training programme in Akagera jointly organised by Rwanda Development Board and the Park management. The new rangers brought a headcount of 102 Nyungwe park rangers.
Ranger training: Ninety-eight (98) rangers attended the first BFR training for Nyungwe; 5 attended the Rangers’ Life Saver Training, while all the 102 rangers attended a refresher training on penal code and human rights with a focus on self-defence and case studies related to rangers’ daily work.
Aerial patrols. Over twelve hours of helicopter patrols covering a distance of 1,259.5 km were carried out in October and November to monitor the overall status of the park and timely detect any possible large-impact illegal activities such as forest fires, illegal mining, alien and invasive species distribution, and agricultural encroachment.
Coach Ranger Life Saver training. Five Nyungwe rangers have completed the Coach Ranger Life Saver training in Akagera National Park. The training focused on providing rangers with the necessary competencies in Field Trauma Care and Practical Instruction. All five graduates are now qualified coaches in Ranger life-saver skills and are helping to pass on the skills to the rest of the Ranger team in Nyungwe. The training was facilitated by the African Parks and was attended by representatives from Volcanoes and Gishwati-Mukura National Parks
|20 new rangers joined Nyungwe Management Company in 2022.|