For the last 5 years, Rwanda Eco-Tours has been working directly with the communities and indirectly through research on community-wildlife conflicts, community development and searching for eco-solutions to problems communities and park face to reduce the over-aching problems facing both community and park conservation: POVERTY AND POACHING.
Most of our guests to Rwanda on their safaris and who visited or community projects mostly the 2007 International Ecotourism Club Award Winning project: TURNING MOUNTAIN GORILLA POACHERS TO FARMERS, and 2008 IUCN/WCPA/IRF Young Conservationist award to Edwin SABUHORO, the brains behind all this, have expressed interest to experience further, share, and learn more about the local people and their culture, traditional dances, have a taste of local food, beers, hear an learn more from the traditional healer, the medicine man, drumming, volunteering etc.
Following the suceess story of our first project of turnign poachers to farmers, and game protectors, Rwanda Eco-Tours invested directly US$ 20.000 in the development of a cultural village: Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village that is for the community and is run by community. Management committees elected by the communities and checked by the community auditing team, with group team leaders monitoring and evaluating all the proceeds generated, and banked on the community trust fund account. Rwanda Eco-Tours only plays a marketing, advisory and training role.
This project has been the most rewarding to see poachers who previously depended on poaching and bush meat now embrace conservation, talk about it and educate other community members on the goodness of conservation, and thereby turn into entrepreneurs by benefiting from their culture through operating sustainable tourism initiatives based on their culture is the most rewarding thing. It doesn’t only empower community to find solutions, and not only that but solutions that work and working for them is great. In 2010, the cultural village brought into the village US$20.000 of which 40% went to salaries and 60% went to community projects on a family basis and community level.
As Kristian Baxter, the first volunteer to the village says,” helping poachers who wish to tell the untold story and take part In conserving the gorillas is the most rewarding but mostly empowering local people to empower themselves Is the base of sustainability and the core backbone for conservation. its not all about giving people a fish to feed themselves that counts, it’s all about teaching people how to fish that will keep them going"
"Given the cultural value attached to it, Iby'Iwacu Cultural Village is a platform to showcase and be proud of our ways of living, lifestyles, history and the traditions as we share It with visitors and community members in a way that it encourages them all to be part of conservation generation while generating income for local people by using revenues got as a spin-off to bring in money in their community to support their household based income as well as developing viability and sustainability while improving their entrepreneurship capacity, curbing down poaching while developing these entities as linkages for conservation, however It leaves us with a question of who owns a moral, social and corporate responsibility towards that end, I like to think all of us" Martha Jacy.
2011, we are proud to publicly announce our new and exciting project GOATS for GORILLAS project innitiated and launched by Edwin Sabuhoro, the idea behind this innovative project is to get every tourist who visits the gorillas to give a goat to a community household living next to the park as an incentive for the community to protect, conserve and understand the economic rationale of protecting the gorillas. As Edwin puts it,"the only way to sustainably conserve these magnificent yet endangered creatures is to have happy people around them, who equally benefits from their existence"