The WCS-Rwanda team came to Kigali to figure out how to improve the management of Nyungwe National Park. In the process of doing this, we’ve learnt how a growing Rwandan tea industry can enhance the conservation efforts around Nyungwe.

One of the key threats to conservation of protected areas around the world is the encroachment of local communities who have traditionally lived off resources from the protected area. Economic development provides communities with a steady income that prevents the need to poach resources from protected areas.

Our team visited the Kitabi Tea Company in Kitabi, Rwanda, where we learned how the lands surrounding Nyungwe are ideal for growing high quality tea. Kitabi locals who grow tea enjoy steady income that allows for a higher standard of living. The underutilized production capacity at Kitabi’s tea processing plant adds to the case for encouraging locals to grow more tea as a means of improving conservation of Nyungwe.

On a separate note, our team learned first hand the blistery rash caused by an encounter with Acid Beetles.

—Russ Griffith

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