Mkapa was speaking yesterday in Musanze District as the Foundation was donating 27.8 hectares of land to Rwanda Development Board (RDB) for the expansion of gorillas’ habitat in the Volcanoes National Park.
Mkapa said as a former Head of State and Government, he appreciates the challenges one faces when leading a country, but said some African leaders take decisions that lead to degradation of natural heritage and priceless assets because they lack conservation vision and commitment.
“President Paul Kagame has demonstrated that the country can support a robust economy and good development of infrastructure while simultaneously protecting the environment. He has shown that communities can thrive as a result of conservation,” he said.
He said, African continent is facing enormous conservation challenges where in the past decade Africa has experienced the poaching crisis and habitat loss which were high.
“The climate change continues to cause a great fate to our natural areas. In the face of these challenges, we need more leaders like President Kagame who recognize the enormous value wildlife and wild ranges have for our people, our economies and our continent,” he said.
“We need more leaders willing to make the right decisions for our continent wild lives and wild ranges,” he noted.
He said Africans should be proud of their wildlives, vast landscapes and continent uniqueness.
“I am deeply proud that I come from Tanzania, the country that supports Africa’s largest migration. Like Rwanda, this is ecologically significant and generates enormously turns for local communities and the country’s economy,” he said.
He said Rwanda has many reasons to be proud of their natural heritage, due being one of three countries in the World beside the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda that are heaven to the mountain Gorillas which are a global treasure.
He said Rwanda continues to set itself apart as a leader in conservation. He said Kagame’s stewardship and leadership in improving the lives of Rwandans and overseen the recovery of the mountain gorilla population, despite great challenges is remarkable.
He said the African Wildlife Foundation is proud to stand with Rwanda as a partner, and pledged their support as Rwanda continues to play the vital role of conservation in Africa.
Recognising the need for additional land, RDB Chief Executive Officer Clare Akamanzi appreciated African Wildlife Foundation for the land donation.
“Today’s donation to the Volcanoes National Park is a major step in the consolidation of Rwanda’s conservation gains for the benefit of communities today and future generations. Through gorilla conservation and tourism, we are directly benefitting from these wonderful animals. Over the last nine years, revenues from mountain gorilla conservation and the resulting tourism has brought $107 million into the national coffers,” she said.