Wilderness Safaris and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International Join Forces for Conservation

Wilderness Safaris and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International have joined forces to expand Bisate’s pioneering reforestation programme in Rwanda with the creation of the new indigenous ‘Karisoke Forest’.

Previously a eucalyptus plantation, the site has been cleared and replaced with 160 indigenous Hagenia tree saplings, which have been planted by over 130 staff members from the Fossey Fund. This first phase will be followed by bi-annual plantings.

This collaboration has been made possible by like-minded and passionate conservationists, many of whom hail from the surrounding rural community. This area is an extraordinary showcase of what is possible when indigenous habitats are restored.  As Wilderness Safaris Chief Marketing Officer, Chris Roche, says, “Undoubtedly the biggest driver behind why we developed Bisate was to provide a ‘proof of concept’ that indigenous reforestation and habitat expansion around Volcanoes National Park is possible, and that this has to be a consideration for long-term mountain gorilla conservation”.

During 2017, and the first half of 2018, Wilderness Safaris planted nearly 20 000 indigenous trees on a 42-hectare piece of land at Bisate, adjacent to the Park. In early 2018, Wilderness Safaris donated indigenous saplings from the Bisate Nursery which members of the Fossey Fund have since planted at Karisoke.

“The team from the Fossey Fund’s Karisoke Research Centre is honoured to be part of this reforestation effort,” says Felix Ndagijimana, Director of Karisoke and the Fossey Fund’s Rwanda programmes. “Bisate holds a special place in the Fossey Fund’s 50-plus years of mountain gorilla conservation, and the ‘Karisoke Forest’ will be a great complement to our work both inside and outside the Park,” he adds.