Nyabarongo wetlands, an Important Bird Area in Rwanda is a refuge for wetland -dependent species and plays important roles in regulating water flow.
They are home of the endangered Madagascar Pond heron Ardeola idae, the Near-threatened Papyrus Gonolek Laniarius mufumbiri, the Vulnerable Grey Crowned Crane Balearica regulorum gibbericeps, and Sitatunga Tragelaphus spekii. The unsustainable use of wetland resources and that of its watershed coupled with climate change have affected the wetlands and hence caused locals to suffer.
With the help of Association pour la Conservation de la Nature au Rwanda, the Inyange Site Support Group now harvests Papyrus for handicrafting after every four months. This allows for its (Papyrus) regeneration while the group members actively engage in monitoring and reporting illegal users of wetlands resources, for example, Sitatunga hunters.
This action has benefited some species that were almost eliminated in the wetlands to recover significantly. Today, Cranes may be seen in the wetlands, a positive outcome, as this species was over hunted in recent years for meat and illegally captured for ornamental purposes. Local people too are also benefitting from sale of handicrafts made by sustainably making use of locally available materials from the wetlands.
By Marc Ndimukaga
Association pour la Conservation de la Nature au Rwanda (BirdLife Partner in Rwanda),