At first I was in the country with four classmates from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (FES) and our professor, Dr. Amy Vedder, who started working in Rwanda back in the late seventies, studying mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park and, with her husband Dr. Bill Weber, helped set up the tourism program that has now become the cornerstone of the country’s economy. The six of us were participating in the Rwanda Study Tour, an opportunity for five Yale FES students to learn about conservation as practiced in this tiny nation of twelve million people.
We traveled around Rwanda for three weeks, visiting the three national parks, talking with leaders in the government and international NGOs, and participating in the type of nature-based tourism that attracts tourists here. We learned about the challenges in Rwanda’s past, and those that its people are still striving to overcome when so much of the country is dedicated to subsistence farming. But we were all very impressed with what we saw, and for most of us it was our first time in Africa.
In upcoming posts, I’ll cover distinct portions of our Study Tour in more detail and with more photos. And next week I hope to have an update from the field, where I will be at Gishwati forest, part of Gishwati-Mukura National Park, to study birds until early August–but more on that later!