This year, nineteen baby gorillas from the Volcanoes National Park were named by a smorgasbord of dignitaries from every walk of life, nationality and origin. The lodge was full of “Namers”, travel agents, guests and revellers and our kitchens were working overtime to feed everyone.
Kwita Izina celebration, Rwanda
This is always a busy time of year; we have been blessed with beautiful weather nearly all month long. Bright sparkling mornings and gentle afternoons after a day up in the hills with the gorillas which have been at their most exceptional. In the dry weather, it becomes almost impossible to know exactly where the gorillas will be so we have had some ‘short and sweet’ treks interspersed with some slightly longer ones.
One of the joys of hosting visitors is to see the unreserved enthusiasm that everyone comes back with, notwithstanding the length of trek they have enjoyed! The descriptions and the superlatives are universal and we love it! But as enjoyable as our guest’s delight is the scope and variety of the projects that SACOLA (the governing body of the community who own the lodge), have managed to achieve with their income derived from the loge operation. It’s an extraordinary story and one we are proud to have been part of so we have had a film maker with us much of the month, documenting and recording many of these achievements. He has been filming interviews with a variety of the community and knitting together a pictorial essay of SACOLA’s successes. We look forward to sharing the finished ‘cut’.
Documenting SACOLA’S achievements, photo credit Chloe Flatt
Our own projects include (and have done so for some time), supporting a conservation foundation known as “The Forest of Hope”.They, under the enthusiastic guidance of the delightful Madelaine, have been instrumental in saving the Gishwati Forest from deforestation and thereby ensuring the success of the small Chimpanzee population that remains. I spent a delightful day trekking in this forest which is about an hour and a half away from the Virunga Mountains with a guest who’s generosity will help further ensure the longevity of this endeavour.
The Chimpanzees, although they remained elusive were obvious in the thick and very beautiful forest and recent counts indicate that the numbers have swelled from 12 to over 30 so their long-term survival is ensured if we can keep up the good work. We enjoyed a delightful guides explanation of the habitat, and his rangers who patrol the forest explained their thoughtful methods to protect the fragile ecosystem by the use of education rather than rules which has been amazing in its success. The fact that the entire surrounding population have taken on the importance of the protection of the forest is a tribute to both the rangers efforts and our own ethos of enabling populations surrounding conservation to ensure its success.
Gishwati Forest, photo credit Emanuel Pavarotti
By Philip Mason, Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge