Most threats to nature and wildlife sustainability are anthropogenic mainly resulting from drastic increase in population size. This implies increased pressure on land use which leads to the reduction and modification of natural areas, resulting in the extinction or threat of extinction to wildlife species and natural areas which serve as their habitats. Grey Crowned Cranes, scientifically known as Balearica regulorum are found in Eastern and Southern Africa. They have faced a dramatic decline over the past decades, due to loss or deterioration of their habitats, illegal removal of birds and eggs from the wild for food.
ICF/EWT/KCCEM is working towards securing and improving the ecological integrity of Rugezi marsh. Apart from aesthetic, Rugezi marshland is utilitarian nationally and internationally due to its inflow and outflow regulatory functions, and drainage for hydro-electric generation. It is also a habitat of various avifauna, a typical example being that it harbors around 108 Grey Crowned Cranes which are classified under endangered by IUCN red list. This is why the project was initiated in Rwanda with zeal to conserve Grey Crowned Cranes and their habitats.
The Rwanda Crane and wetland project working under ICF/EWT/KCCEM partnership has been working closely with communities around Rugezi marshland and other key wetlands in Rwanda. The project has stimulated the communities with the spirit of ownership and love for their natural resources through crane conservation. This is demonstrated through different initiatives that the community undertake like protecting crane’s nests and reporting breeding sites for further follow-up, reporting poachers, sensitizing their fellows to contribute in conservation and rehabilitating buffer zones to allow nature to keep its function of providing ecosystem services.
On October 17, 2017 local leaders and communities gathered to plant trees to restore the buffer zone of Rugezi marshland, a wetland of great importance with its status of protection as Ramsar site. The aim is to re-establish green space in the buffer zone that had become a ground due to anthropogenic pressure. After this noble activity of planting trees in filling up the gaps within the buffer zone of Rugezi marshland, the project coordinator and the team use the opportunity to reach out/send a conservation message. And this provides a suitable room to interact and discuss conservation issues with the community.
Gladly, the community owns conservation and are committed to keep monitoring any threat to Cranes and keeping the momentum as far as conservation is concerned. The latter is crucial and with the community as pillars, success is a guarantee.
Article by Hirwa Elise an Intern from University of Rwanda working with Rwanda Coordinator, Richard Muvunyi