Eco-Tourism Helps Prevent Poaching

Ellen Wilson took this amazing photo of a young gorilla while traveling with Ujuzi in Rwanda.
Ellen Wilson took this amazing photo of a young gorilla while traveling with Ujuzi in Rwanda. Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village is helping to preserve the mountain gorillas’ rainforest ecosystem by creating income so that residents don’t need to poach for food.

CNN recently ran a fascinating story about Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village, a site where many of Ujuzi’s travelers to Rwanda have learned about local arts and ways of life. Visitors can learn to grind sorghum or millet by hand, start a fire without matches, or shoot a bow and arrow. Tasting banana beer and other local foods, watching traditional dances, seeing artisans at work, and talking to village elders are unique experiences that open our eyes to a different way of life – and the commonalities that tie all humans together.

It all started when Edwin Sabuhoro was a warden in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park. He had the opportunity to talk with some individuals who had been jailed for kidnapping a baby gorilla to sell to a private buyer. He heard stories of desperate poverty and hunger, and came to realize that poaching would not stop until these issues were addressed.

He provided farm land and seeds to former poachers so they could raise their own food and sell it at market. “I left them with that and they started farming, and when I came back six months after I found they had harvested enough – they had enough food at home, but they were [also] selling more in the markets,” Sabuhoro told CNN. They no longer needed to turn to poaching for income.

Looking for other ways to generate income for communities near Volcanoes National Park, Sabuhoro worked with locals to create a Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village. The village has brought in enough income so families no longer  need to turn to poaching to survive.

Visit the link below to view an interview with Sabuhoro.

Featured Park: Arusha National Park, Tanzania

Thousands of flamingoes dot Big Momella Lake in Arusha National Park. Photo taken on a 2013 Ujuzi safari.

The closest national park to Arusha, northern Tanzania’s safari capital, Arusha National Park is a multi-faceted jewel, offering the opportunity to explore a diversity of habitats within a few hours through game drives, hikes and canoeing.

The entrance gate leads into shadowy montane forest inhabited by inquisitive blue monkeys and colorful turaco and trogons. It is the only place on the northern safari circuit where the acrobatic black and white colobus monkeys are easily seen. In the midst of the forest stands the spectacular Ngurdoto Crater, whose steep, rocky cliffs enclose a wide, marshy floor dotted with herds of buffalo and warthog.

Read moreFeatured Park: Arusha National Park, Tanzania

Featured Lodge: Mbalageti Serengeti, Tanzania

This permanent camp in the western corridor of Serengeti National Park is renowned for its stunning views of the Serengeti plains and Mbalageti River. Built on the slopes of the gently rising Mwamweni Hill, its 24 luxury tented chalets are constructed from a combination of local rock, wood and a canvas-and-thatch roof. The chalets are well-spaced for privacy, and each has a full en-suite bathroom and a private veranda from which you can enjoy the panoramic views. Mbalageti Camp also has two ‘suite’ chalets – which comprise two bedrooms, a lounge veranda and en-suite bathroom – as well as a 14-room lodge and three family cabins.

Read moreFeatured Lodge: Mbalageti Serengeti, Tanzania

Saving rhinos one surgery at a time

A white rhino grazes at Lake Nakuru National Park. Photo taken by Kathy Overman on an Ujuzi Safari to Kenya.
A white rhino grazes at Lake Nakuru National Park. Photo taken by Kathy Overman on an Ujuzi Safari to Kenya.

Poaching the Creature That’s More Valuable Than Gold is a fascinating look by the BBC into the worlds of people who poach rhinos and people who protect them. Rhino poaching has increased dramatically over the past few years as demand for their horns escalates.

Rhino horn is used as a medicine in parts of Asia, where people credit it with treating everything from male impotence to cancer. None of the claims are true. Rhino horn is simply keratin, the same substance that makes up human fingernails.

Rhinos have gone extinct in parts of their range, and poaching has risen nearly 100-fold over the past decade in South Africa.

The article provides a rare look into the many aspects that contribute to poaching, including poverty and political corruption. It also profiles people risking their lives to save rhinos, and veterinarians providing care to rhinos who have survived poaching attacks.

It notes a new trend in poaching, where some poachers tranquilize rhinos rather than kill them before removing their horns. Unfortunately, these poachers don’t have veterinary experience and often end up severely injuring the rhinos.

Scroll to the bottom of the article for a (non-graphic) video of veterinarians doing facial surgery on one such rhino.