RUMONGE April 29th (ABP) – The Kigwena protected reserve in Rumonge province (southwest of Burundi) covers 565 hectares of forest. A reserve commonly called “Peri-Guinean”, according to the governor of Rumonge province, Consolateur Nitunga, as long as the varieties of its trees are the same as those of the forest of Equatorial Guinea.
According to Mr. Nitunga, there are many challenges for its preservation. It faces the imperative of the population of the surroundings who seek firewood there by resorting to the cutting of trees or by the collection of wood debris on the ground. It is surrounded by 3 sites divided into 2 sectors Gashasha and Cabara and all the people look for firewood there. An illegal activity according to him. On the other hand, the fruits of this reserve are highly prized. The status of the reserve is sometimes a subject of dispute. In that regard, Mr. Nitunga revealed that people who fled in 1972 maintain that they had land within the reserve, which the governor refutes by insisting that this reserve is a domain protected by law of 1958, well before the events of 1972. The other challenge which is not the least, it is the displacement of the limits of the reserve by the population of the surroundings who fragment this reserve to their advantage.
Mr. Nitunga indicates that the Rumonge province is committed to protecting this reserve through public awareness sessions for its preservation. He maintains that this reserve allows the surrounding households to benefit from the rain throughout the year, a boon for agricultural activities.
The governor of Rumonge province returned to the episode of chimpanzees from this reserve who were relocated to Kenya about 30 years ago (between the years 1993 and 1996). For him, the latter have generated a lot of money because of tourist visits. He called on the government to look into the matter so that these chimpanzees can offer added value to our country. He did not rule out that these chimpanzees are repatriated.
Mr. Nitunga recognizes that much remains to be done so that this reserve can attract tourists who are still few in number at present. He considers that the personnel assigned to the guard of the reserve are insufficient. A concern he shares with François Manirambona, head of the Burundian Office for Environmental Protection (OBPE) in Rumonge province. The latter indicates that the 2 forest guards who must take care of the 565 hectares of the reserve are insufficient. That number should be revised upwards.
Mr. Célestin Mbazumutima, one of the 2 forest guards assigned to the protection of this reserve, adds that to attract tourists, it is necessary to invest in the development of tracks, the construction of hotels inside the reserve. Mr. Mbazumutima insisted on the proper supervision of forest rangers, while also ensuring their safety. He asks the authorities in charge of public security to give them guns because they have nothing to protect themselves. In 2018, he was injured by poachers who had machetes while he only had a stick.