On Friday 15th March, 35 promising birding guides from all over Rwanda started a 3-week-long training course to upgrade their skills. “With this training, we want to improve the quality of the bird watching experience in Rwanda and earn more from active tourism”, said Eugene Mutangana, Head of Tourism and Conservation at the Rwanda Development Board (RDB). Led by the experienced ornithologist, Malcom Wilson, the participants will visit the country’s prime bird watching destinations in Bugesera district, Akagera National Park and Nyungwe National Park. Among other things, bird watching techniques, photography, ringing and breeding biology as well as guiding tourists are on the course agenda.

To be well equipped for this endeavour, Ellen Kallinowsky, Principal Technical Advisor of the Promotion of Economy and Employment Programme (Eco-Emploi), handed over 35 brand new binoculars to the participants. The private sector, represented by Ariella Kageruka, Head of the Rwanda Chamber of Tourism, gifted reference books on birds in Rwanda to the course. The objective of the training is not only to increase the skills level of the participants, but to also use them as multipliers to boost the entire industry in the country. “We strongly believe that bird watching in Rwanda can reach a similar economic potential as the gorillas already have today”, states Ellen Kallinowsky. Tour operators, the hospitality sector and communities all over the country could benefit, when the potential of birding is realised.

The training has been organized by the RDB in partnership with the Rwanda Chamber of Tourism, the Rwanda Safari Guides Association (RSGA) and Eco-Emploi. Eco-Emploi is a joint Rwandan-German Development Cooperation Programme with Technical Assistance by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).