Rwanda: Parks Should Be Fenced

Rwanda: Parks Should Be Fenced

The New Times
 26 May 2011

A stray buffalo from the Akagera National Park, on Tuesday, attacked and nearly killed a resident of Kabare sector in Kayonza District.

Cases of wild animals charging at, and sometimes, killing unsuspecting and defenseless residents around the national parks are not new. Only a few days ago a young boy sustained serious injuries in Burera District when an elephant from the Volcanoes National Park attacked him.

In addition, residents have repeatedly complained about the wandering animals destroying their crops. And, the unrestricted movement of wild animals also exposes them to poachers, who are usually lurking in the hope of getting the better of their prey, and then leave unnoticed.

Although there has been progress in trying to limit the continued friction between wildlife and the neighbouring communities in the recent past, including the erection of a buffer wall on one side of the Volcanoes National Park, it is important that all the national parks are fenced for the safety of both the people and the animals.

With communities already benefiting directly from tourist visits to these parks, once they begin to feel secure from their restrained 'neighbours', they will actively partake in programmes aimed at  protecting these tourist attractions.

They will willingly help put an end to, or at least significantly reduce, poaching, a practice that will otherwise thrive if the local communities themselves are among the poachers, or if they are just indifferent.

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