The fourth edition of the Conversation on Conservation (COC) recently took place at the Kigali Cultural and Exhibition Village in Rwanda, discussing ‘Advancing Conservation through Technology’.
The two-day forum brought together conservation and tourism experts from around the world to discuss, debate and find solutions for conservation challenges.
The COC is a uniquely Rwandan event introduced in 2005 with the aim of creating awareness of conservation efforts for the endangered mountain gorilla, is ‘Conservation is Life’.
The event coincides with the week-long 2018 Kwita Izina celebrations. The Kwita Izina gorilla naming ceremony will took place in Kinigi, Northern Province on 7, September where 23 infant mountain gorillas will be named this year.
Welcoming the COC participants, the Rwanda Development Board Chief Tourism Officer, Belise Kariza, said “this 4th Kwita Izina Conversation on Conservation Conference for which you have joined today and tomorrow, is an important forum bringing together you, the conservation and tourism experts from around the World, to discuss, debate and find solutions to the challenges we all face in conservation today – in Rwanda, in Africa and Globally.”
“We have a line-up of excellent speakers who, in a research symposium format, will share their expertise and experiences in the use of technology to advance conservation – the sub-theme for this year’s COC Conference. This year’s COC Conference also builds upon one our key goals, also a goal of the Government of Rwanda, that of actively involving and building capacity in our Youth, the future leaders and stewards of our natural and cultural heritage in Rwanda.”
COC provided the opportunity to renew profession working friendships and networks, as well as establish new ones.
Welcoming the Guest of Honor, the Right Honorable Prime Minister of the Republic of Rwanda, Edourard Ngirente, to the 2018 Conversation on Conservation, the Chief Executive Officer of Rwanda Development Board, Clare Akamanzi, added “Kwita Izina, a family of conservation and tourism events which includes this COC Conference, are indeed important to Rwandans because they not only celebrate our significant conservation and sustainable tourism achievements, but share them with the World.”
“This Conference also continues to be an important call to action in support of conservation and sustainable tourism in Rwanda”, Chief Executive Officer, Clare Akamanzi noted.
The 23 new baby mountain gorillas that were named on the 7th September is yet another indicator that proves Rwanda determination to protect biodiversity assets.
Tourism is one of the key pillars of Rwanda’s economy and has been one of the major foreign currency sources for the last seven years, accounting for 44 percent of service exports as well as 21 percent of all export goods and services.
As a result of conservation efforts such as Kwita Izina, the population of the endangered mountain gorilla has increased to 604 in 2016 in the Virunga Massif compared to 480 in 2010. The Virunga Massif is comprised Mikeno Sector of Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. Mountain gorilla numbers in the entire area had fallen as low as 242 in 1981.