Monday, March 26, 2012

Rwanda's Gishwati Forest

Gishwati Rainforest - a beautiful old forest in northern Rwanda that was once 100,000 hectares, and now reduced to just 600 hectares as a result of subsistence farming and refugee resettlement after the 1994 genocide. My roommate Winnie and I dared the jarring 1.5 hour ride up a bumpy dirt road on the back of motorbikes this past weekend to check out Gishwati - and the 24 chimpanzees that call this rainforest home. The chimpanzees are not habituated so we were not able to get very close to them, but we could hear them calling to one another throughout the day.
I was really struck by the diverse plant species in Gishwati. For only being a few hours away, this forest was a world apart from the Virunga’s (where the mountain gorillas live). Gishwati was once the second largest indigenous forest in Rwanda, but is now just 1,500 acres.

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