This was the third and final African Wildlife Foundation project that the boys visited for Drive 4 Wildlife and the best example of how culture is changing in Africa for the better when it comes to conservation.
The Gorilla Guardians Village is located in the volcano’s region of Rwanda, at the foot of the rainforests. The village has been located there for generations, but over the past twenty years has seen a big shift in how people living in the village view animals and poaching.
In the past, villagers would regularly kill animals for food, for the bush meat trade and also to wear for clothes. These even included gorillas and elephants. However, since the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, that saw 2 million people killed, the country as a whole has turned itself around, including its efforts to protect wildlife.
Thanks to eco-tourism, the amount of poaching in the country has fallen and animal numbers have risen. Eco-tourism has also allowed locals to find new ways of making a living by being employed as wildlife guides and also culture guides for tourists. Jobs like these appeal more to the locals as it leads to a more steady incomes, instead of just one off payments for animals on the illegal wildlife trade.
At present, many of the people that were once upon a time, poachers are now part of anti-poaching units and at the forefront of protecting wildlife in the country.
Visiting this area really showed the positive impact that conservation has had not just on animals, but also people and the country as a whole.