Beekeeping is reducing human-wildlife conflict around Gishwati-Mukura National Park and Biosphere Reserve. According to the local community around the park, beekeeping has emerged as a sustainable solution for activities such as poaching, grass cutting, grazing, and bamboo cutting.
Beekeeping is a popular economic activity in Rutsiro District and other parts of Western Province. It is commonly practiced near the smallest national park in Rwanda, which is shared by Rutsiro and Ngororero districts.
Emilienne Mukasine, a member of a cooperative engaged in farming outside Gishwati-Mukura, highlights the numerous benefits that bees bring to both the farming community and ordinary people in agriculture.
“A bee acts as a pollinator and provides a variety of medicinal resources. Beekeeping enables us to afford our own clothing, food, and health insurance,” she explained.
Mukasine said understanding the benefits of the park and its importance to their farming inspired them to actively participate in its preservation and conservation.
“We cannot allow anyone to engage in illegal activities. We either educate them or report them to the local authorities if they continue,” she added.
Conservation Analyst at Rwanda Development Board (RDB), Télesphore Ngoga, told The New Times that working closely with the community is decreasing illegal activities in and around the park.
“We collaborate closely with the local community to protect and preserve this ecosystem every day. We have various ongoing projects, including revenue sharing and involving stakeholders. Beekeeping is expected to improve the lives of people living in the area and address human-wildlife conflicts,” he explained.
Around 30 female beekeepers received training from the Rwanda National Commission for UNESCO. Additionally, three women-led cooperatives were provided with modern beehives, with the aim of inspiring and involving more individuals in the field of farming.
Acting Mayor of Rutsiro District, Prosper Mulindwa, said, “Bee keeping is not only helping the development of the district but it also plays a great role in conservation of the park, and reducing illegal acts by the local community as a source of living.”
He further revealed that the district has made additional efforts in this farming endeavour, with 800 beehives being established in the past three months. Official data indicate that Rutsiro District is home to around 23 bee farming cooperatives.