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Olivier Nsengamana, defender of the gray crowned crane

Olivier Nsengamana, defender of the gray crowned crane

Preserving biodiversity in Rwanda

Olivier Nsengimana

Olivier Nsengimana

This is the story of a young man who survived the Rwandan genocide. He graduated top of the class from his veterinary school, its first passion is to save endangered animals in his country. He then pitched on the crane, symbol of wealth and longevity in Rwanda. This pet bird with a proud and distinguished look, its golden crown tuft and its red flame spot on the neck, found Olivier Nsengamana as an advocate. Born in Rwanda in 1984, he has dedicated his life to preserving biodiversity in the Land of The Thousand Hills.

Everybody knows the eventful history of Rwanda was not favorable to the conservation of wildlife or allowed it to be among the priorities of the population. Also, despite the government’s efforts which banned injure, kill, capture, or sell the crane, nothing is effective. The population of that species has declined by 80% over the last 45 years. Today, there are between 300 and 500 gray crowned cranes in the protected area of the north, to Rugezi Marsh.

Having decided to divide his time between the protection of Gorillas and cranes, Olivier began to reintroduce cranes in their natural Rwandan habitat. The first step in this process is the establishment of a national database of all gray crowned cranes in Rwanda, including those in captivity. In a second step, the creation of a rehabilitation center is envisaged, including in the Akagera National Park, located in the northeast of the country. It also intends to promote the breeding programs and convince people to renounce for their birds. Because of that, Olivier works with the Rwanda Development Council to encourage people to part with the birds they hold. The most delicate part of his approach, however, remains to eradicate poaching which is still sustaining many people.

At the age of 30, Olivier Nsengamana, who wants to promote access to knowledge and experience to the young Rwandan environmentalist generation, is one of the winners of Environment 2014. The prestigious watch brand Rolex has decided to help him in his approach. The example of Olivier should serve as a model for other African countries that have an enormous difficulty to balance environmental protection with economic development.

crédits photo : © Rolex Awards/Ambroise Tézenas & © J Shouse Photojournalism.

By Aissatou KOUROUMA.



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