How Eco Tourism Has Saved the Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda
According to the 2011 gorilla census, there are only 880 Mountain Gorillas left in the wild worldwide. Making it a critically endangered species of ape. Half of this population is found in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in south western Uganda. The other half is found in the magnificent Virunga Mountain ranges. These are shared by Rwanda (Volcanoes National Park), Uganda (Mgahinga National Park) and Democratic Republic of Congo (Virunga National Park).
The mountain gorillas are endangered and at risk of extinction. There are many International and regional bodies working hard to protect the gorillas and their habitat. These include the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP), Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, Rwanda Development Board and Gorilla Doctors, among others.
Man is the main threat to the mountain gorilla population in Africa. This threat is through activities of poaching and encroachment to their habitat. Therefore, Eco tourism is the way forward towards the protection of the mountain gorillas in Rwanda through the following ways;
In the first instance, Volcanoes National park Rwanda today has 10 habituated gorilla groups available for ecotourism purposes. Mountain Gorilla trekking is the main tourist activity in the park. A maximum of 8 persons are allowed to visit each gorilla group per day. And tourists are only allowed to stay with the gorillas for a maximum of one hour. Man is a visitor in small groups for a short period of time. This promotes responsible travel and protects the gorillas and their natural setting.
Additionally, gorilla trekking rules have been put in place and clients are briefed before starting the trek. The rules aim at protecting the mountain gorillas and their habitat. These rules include;
- Not to litter in the gorilla habitat
- Not to make noise in the forest
- Not to smoke, drink or eat near gorillas
- No taking pictures with flash cameras
- Keep distance of 7 meters from the gorillas
- Not to touch the gorillas
- Dig a hole in case you want to ease yourself and bury it after
- Cover your mouth when coughing to avoid transmitting diseases to the gorillas.
- If a person has flu or cough, they are not allowed to go gorilla trekking
Other tourist activities in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda include golden monkey tracking, adventurous hikes to Dian Fossey tombs and Iby’Iwacu cultural village tour. The latter is where tourists learn about the ways of life of the local people. Tourists also learn about their cultures and actively participate in local music, dance and drama.
Iby’Iwacu cultural village’s main object is to demonstrate the ways of life of Rwandese to tourists. The Rwandese earn a living from their activities. Through goats for gorilla project, tourists to Iby’wacu cultural village donate US $25-50 to purchase a goat for an ex-poacher’s families, thus saving the gorillas in Rwanda.
Many Eco-lodges and resorts have been constructed around Volcanoes National Park for nature lovers. Such lodges are constructed from local/natural materials such as volcanic stones, bamboo and wood to blend with the environment. Such Eco-lodges include Virunga Lodge, Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge and Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge among others.
Through Eco-tourism around Volcanoes National Park, the local communities are sensitized about the value of gorilla tourism, and they directly benefit from gorilla tourism revenues. For example, during this year’s Kwita Izina (Gorilla Naming ceremony in Rwanda), Rwanda Development Board and Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund launched 12 classrooms at Gatebe Primary school. During the 2015 Kwita Izina ceremony, Bisate Learning centre in Musanze was launched and today has over 2300 students. Many other schools get support from eco-tourism revenues around the park. Additionally, the local communities are rewarded with medical centers and piped water from gorilla tourism revenues.
Furthermore, ex poachers have been employed in different sectors of tourism such as eco-lodges and in the park. Most porters and park rangers were ex-poachers, now fighting poaching and saving the Mountain Gorillas. Because they now benefit from the gorillas, they can no-longer go back to poaching, thus saving the mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda.
This post was submitted by Paul Basudde, who works with African Jungle Adventures in Rwanda and Uganda.
Sustainable Business Model of Eco Tropical Resorts
September 16, 2016
Eco Tropical Resorts was started in 2003. It has taken me 13 years to create my own business model and much thought has gone into it in the last year.
Here’s some background to show you how this sustainable business model came about. This part might be a little technical, so skip a few paragraphs to get beyond that if you have no interest. I tend to let things evolve on their own. The word came up through the jungle drums that Google, the major search engine, was going to start penalizing websites that didn’t do well on mobile phones. WordPress seemed like a good alternative because it is mobile friendly.
Start the big move to WordPress in 2013. It took a while to get all the work done and suddenly it was 2014 and was finally done. Now it was time to evaluate the new web site.Turns out it’s not optimized for the keywords (the words by which a web site is found through search) that drew in so much traffic. I got busy and created new pages for some of my previous keywords but it has taken a while to build traffic back up.
While this was happening, I realized that I wasn’t comfortable charging new lodges/tours to be on the directory. I started adding free listings and telling lodges/tours that they would not be charged until they started getting traffic. The lodges that have been with me for a while are getting other benefits by listing on Eco Tropical Resorts. To see the benefits go here: Benefits of listing a lodge/tour on Eco Tropical Resorts.
A sustainable Business Model is one where everyone benefits, no harm is caused, and it is self sustainable. This is the direction we’re going. All listings are free until such time as they are receiving enough benefit to warrant paying minimal dues. By approaching it in this manner it becomes a win/win situation.
As usual, please feel free to comment on my post.
Upcoming Retreats in Costa Rica at Ojo Del Mar Ecolodge
January 23 – 30, 2016 – 7 nights – Yoga Adventure – Led by Basia Going
Enjoy yoga in the morning on our newly constructed yoga deck under the palm trees overlooking the ocean. Another session for breathing and meditation is held in the evening. Spend the rest of the time surfing, hiking, riding horses, or just chilling in the hammock doing absolutely nothing.
January 31 – 8, 2016 – 8 nights – Advanced Therapeutic Thai Massage – Led by Christopher Ray and Kate Lewandowski
This is an intensive workshop for bodyworkers that includes training in That massage in the incredible environment of the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica. The Thai massage training is 45 hours. This leaves lots of time for other natural pleasures including yoga.
February 8 – 14, 2016 – 6 nights – Wild Yoga Journey – Led by Rebecca Wildbear
This is a daily yoga journey that is playful, gentle and invigorating. It is a daily morning asana practice. Open to all levels of physical ability.
February 13 – 20, 2016 – 8 nights – Goddess Within – Led by Sara Hilgendorf and Stacie Finucan
This is a woman only yoga and massage therapy retreat. Enjoy something special and spiritual as you journey towards better self awareness.
April 9 – 16, 2016 – 7 nights – Two Feet One Word Yoga – Led by Tami Ellis
Begin the day with meditation and Vinyasa Flow Yoga and every evening with Yin Yoga.
April 16 – 23, 2016 – 7 nights – Yoga Retreat – Led by Ame Wren
We will begin each morning with a rockin’, sweat-inducing and muscle-loosening Vinyasa yoga class. The evening practice will serve to cool you down (think yin, restorative, meditation) and prepare you for the best sleep you’ll ever have.
All retreats include food and lodging and the amenities offered by Ojo Del Mar Ecolodge. For more information on any of the retreats please go here: Retreats in Costa Rica at Ojo Del Mar Ecolodge. Information about each of the teachers is also available through that link.
Macaw Bank Lodge in Belize now offers an 18 by 18 foot yoga platform Macaw Bank Lodgeder the large ancient tropical trees found in the jungle of Belize. Our beautiful sunrise will be over the mountains for a truly relaxing session, silent except for the exciting sounds of the tropical birds waking up.
We offer yoga classes either done by our trained leaders here in San Ignacio or by your own group leaders. We are able to accommodate the beginner or advanced classes. We will be offering individualized group packages to suit your needs. Your groups can arrange meetings on site with our local naturalists or traditional Mayan shaman. We also have acupuncture and therapeutic massage treatments available. Riverside bathing is available in the most natural setting alongside native flora with the sounds of parrots nearby. You can relax in a float tube or, just cool off in the river.
The lodge has 6 cabanas in the jungle setting of the mountains of Belize. Each cabana can sleep 2 to 4 guests. There is a restaurant on site with all meals made using the most natural ingredients found in our organic farming region. We are prepared to do vegetarian or vegan meals or any special diet restrictions. Macaw Bank is known for its eco feeling and off the grid lodge. We have put years of work into the tranquil gardens and sitting areas.
We can pick you and your party up at the international airport or bus station in San Ignacio. If you want more ease of movement here, we suggest that you rent a 4 wheel drive vehicle at the Airport. We have tours set up to see Maya Sites, caves, tubing down the river, or just relaxing in our 50 acre paradise. We have walking trails where you can enjoy beautiful birds and wildlife found only in the jungle of Belize.
Yoga and Macaw Bank Lodge in Belize, we look forward to making your yoga holiday the most relaxing it can be.
In this day and age every time you turn around there is another “eco” lodge popping up. As “ecotourism” is moving more mainstream, more hotels will try to ride on the sustainable bandwagon. In some ways this is wonderful. It’s really good that hotels are wising up and trying to improve their best practices. I applaud that and it’s good for business.
But what about those places that will pretend they are “eco” when really they are doing the minimum. We have even created a word for this problem that is cropping up: “Greenwashing”. It seems clear that we need some way to differentiate between hotels that are committed to sustainability and those that just use if for publicity purposes.
One way to insure that a place really is sustainable is to get certified by someplace like Green Globe, http://greenglobe.com/. They send someone out to do a hands on rating. The only problem with their rating is that it is expensive to have someone travel out to a lodge, etc. and personally evaluate them. Last time I checked it cost the lodges around $1000 (US) to become certified. For many lodges, this keeps them from joining. By definition, it’s the smaller lodges that are more “eco”. Should they be penalized because they can’t afford the fee?
The next best alternative is to have some kind of check and answer system that doesn’t need a hands on visit. I’ve tried to develop just that with the “Online Eco Rating Exam”, https://www.eco-tropicalresorts.com/ecorating/. It’s a way for lodges to respond to a series of questions and come up with a score that shows exactly how “eco” they are based out of a total of 5. In order for a lodge to get a perfect score, they have to have Policies and Procedures as well as a way of monitoring their consumption of water and energy and send it for authentication. The online rating covers energy, water, recycling and waste, community, and land and nature conservation.
There is no charge to members to take the Online Eco Rating Exam and it is a way for them to prove that they are not “greenwashing”. The Exam is always being improved on as new things come to light or as many people express their opinion.
Right now I’m grappling with water issues. Should lodging that is in a wet area of the world be penalized for not using water saving techniques? I’m leaning towards yes because water is a global issue and I see “eco” lodges as ways to open up people’s eyes to conservation in all its aspects. Please feel free to share your opinion by answering here or contacting me directly at lise @ eco-tropicalresorts.com.
In summary, an Online Eco Rating can make a big difference, especially for small establishments. It helps add credibility to hotels.
Tembo Kijani and Ecotourism in Tanzania
Tembo Kijani sits right on the coast of Tanzania in Africa. Here you will find secluded, white sandy beaches. The owners are passionate about ecotourism and their philosophy is to take what nature gives and to give back to nature. This post is about Tembo Kijani and Ecotourism in Tanzania.
The buildings at Tembo Kijani are made from local materials and designed to blend into the surrounding nature. They use Makuti roofs on all their buildings. This type of roof can be seen throughout Tanzania and is accomplished by using coconut leaves. What’s great about these roofs is that they help with constant air flow, thereby keeping the heat from building up. Below is an image of these roofs.
Being far off in the bush, Tembo Kijani uses only solar and wind power to generate their electricity. Each bungalow has it’s own controller and guests can see exactly how much electricity they are using.
Waste management is done with the goal of zero waste. Water is filtered instead of purchased in plastic containers. All kitchen waste is composted. Waste water is reused to water the bush.
Ecotourism is at the heart of Tembo Kijani and Ecotourism in Tanzania.
I have just completed research on ecotourism in Africa though haven’t covered all of its countries. Before I discuss my research let it be known that I was born in Senegal, Africa and one of my favorite books/movies is “Out of Africa”. The book was written by Isak Dinesen and is autobiographical and written in 1913. It is not so much the story line that caught my attention but the beautiful land and wild animals of what was to become Kenya. Africa is and will always be in my heart.
I have to say that Namibia really impressed me with it’s promotion of eco-tourism. They have added the protection of the environment into their constitution, where I think it belongs and wish other countries would follow their example. Around forty percent of its land is protected in some way. This has helped with the highly endangered black rhino. Namibia is one of the few countries with a rising population of this endangered species. To read more about Ecotourism in Namibia please go here: Namibia Eco Lodges-Tours
The government of Botswana has set a code for the operation of eco lodges and safaris to help insure preservation of that nation’s land and wildlife. To read more go here: Botswana Eco Lodges-Tours
The longest running Chimpanzee rehabilitation program is in The Gambia where at one point they disappeared but now there are 4 different social groups of chimps there. I definitely have a soft spot for all the wildlife in the world and this heartens me. To read more about The Gambia ecotourism go here: The Gambia Eco Lodges-Tours
Kenya is a well known spot for ecotourism in terms of its wildlife. It’s here people go to see the Big 5 animals. Read about it here: Kenya Eco Lodges-Tours. The newest Kenya Eco Lodge is pictured below. What’s hard to believe is that this is in a suburb of Nairobi.
Too see about ecotourism in Mauritius go here: Mauritius Eco Lodges
For Mozambique Ecotourism go here: Mozambique Eco Lodges
For the Seychelles: Seychelles Eco Lodges-Tours
For South Africa: South Africa Eco Lodges-Tours
For Uganda: Uganda Eco Lodges Tours
For Tanzania: Tanzania Eco Lodges Tours
For Zambia: Zambia Eco Lodges-Tours
One last thing I want to add is about the mass hysteria over Ebola. It reminds me of when I lived in Guam and my family and friends were so worried about the Brown Tree Snake that was taking over the island as the news reported it. I lived there for five years and only ever saw one. The news often gets things wrong and I would have no fear of traveling to the countries where there are outbreaks of Ebola. I would just use common sense and avoid areas where there are outbreaks but these are small and things are getting better. There is so much to see and do in Africa and the areas involved are so small and the only way to catch Ebola is if you’re close to a person with an actual outbreak. It is not transferable until a person is actively sick so don’t let the news scare you away!
If anyone has anything to add to eco-tourism in any of these African countries, please email me as I would love to add it! All my research was done online and I know that can be limited. Email me at lise(@)eco-tropicalresorts.com. Sorry about the (@) but I already get too much spam, as I’m sure you do as well!
Eco Lodges helping children
3 Rivers & Rosalie Forest Eco Lodge, is very proud to announce that as part of our partnership program with www.packforapurpose.org, Mrs. Angela Bailey and 50, yes 50, of her friends, self-named the “Splendidors” all disembarked The Carnival Splendor cruise ship today, bearing bags and bundles of useful items and gifts for the Grand fond school and its pupils. Pictured here with Jem Winston:
Mr Sheppee, from Sheppee tours, helped organize the event during one his exciting island tours, and Mrs. Leslie the school principal was there with me to greet our generous visitors. Over 200 lbs of goods makes it our pack for a purpose record. Thanks also to Carnival Cruise line for bringing them to Dominica.
3 Rivers & Rosalie Forest Eco Lodge works in collaboration with pack for a purpose to assist the Grand Fond Primary School.
The idea is a traveler fills up any unused baggage allowance with useful school items to fill up their bags. See all the gifts here:
Mrs Leslie at Grand Fond has created an ingenious rewards program, where each donated item is given a pints value, and the pupils earn points through work and behavior and can choose their gifts according to their number of points they have accumulated.
This teaches the children how to budget and the value of goods, even gifts!!!
3 Rivers eco Lodge encourages all visitors to Dominica to follow this splendid example, and help nurture and educate the children of the Nature Isle.
Ecology in Bali
Submitted by Sumber Sari Eco Villas – www.sumbersariecovillas.com
Ecology in Bali is improving. One of our Villagers, on the Reef Preservation/Conservation Project, has only got a stump on one arm rather than 2 complete arms. He lost this half of one arm in dynamiting the reef to kill/catch fish in his younger days !!
Through experience he understands that a healthy reef brings in more fish. That fish can be netted from the beach with a team of the villagers. This causes no damage to the coral. The village is now catching as much fish as the village needs. The villagers have set up a Reef Patrol to stop people (the Javanese, given the chance, still come across the Strait and do it, dynamiting that is) damaging the villagers livelihood and Bali’s Ecology.
Just an interesting aside, as to what education and understanding can do, with a bit of help with some Ecological thinking that benefits everybody !! Ecology in Bali is now being practiced by villagers that used to destroy the ecology.
To see listings in Indonesia on Eco Tropical Resorts/Sustainable Ecotourism Directory go here: Indonesia Eco Lodges.