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Colleen Patrick-Goudreau on Wildlife Tourism in Rwanda

In 2019, Colleen came to Rwanda and hosted two trips to Rwanda with us. Rwanda is not really seen by many as an obvious place to visit. It’s a small, land-locked country that was ravaged by the Rwandan genocide in the 90s but it is vastly different from the image that you might have in your head. One of the reasons we wanted to visit Rwanda is because of the gorillas. Even before we went to Rwanda for fun, we thought that the gorilla program was well managed, however, after we went, we thought that actually what they are doing with the gorilla program could actually serve as a model for others in the world.

Throughout the trip, we realised that Rwanda is not only seem to be doing a great job for the gorillas and the people that live around Volcanoes National Park, but the way Rwanda manages the Golden Monkeys and the chimpanzees is also very good.

Fast forward a couple of years, we decided to run a trip to Rwanda with Colleen as a host.  It was so popular that we decided to do another departure immediately after. Without a doubt, people seems very keen to come and experience the gorillas in Rwanda. With all of the amazing people that came on the trip, we talked a lot about wildlife tourism, the positive and negative impacts on the animals when you go to visit them.

Colleen was so inspired with this topic that she did a podcast on the topic which we hope you will take the time to listen to here.

Main points from the podcast

  • Colleen responds to ideas such as “taking pictures of animals and visiting perpetuates the idea that animals are just here for us.
  • Greenwashing of terms like ecotourism, responsible travel etc – what does it mean?
  • Avoiding blatant animal exploitation like elephant riding
  • The backstory behind the gorillas in Rwanda and the history behind the conservation effort of the gorillas and how they came up with the current tourism model for gorillas in Rwanda.
  • Who are the real heroes behind the continued conservation efforts? The Rwandans and the others in neighbouring countries who work in very dangerous conditions.
  • What the experience of seeing the gorillas like: How many people are in each group?
  • Akagera National Park – Rwanda’s other national park. Its history, challenges and success story.

Please take time to listen to Colleen’s perspective on wildlife tourism. She has a real knack of being able break these complicated issues down.

Colleen and her husband David on our first trip to Rwanda together.

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