September 2022
Biodiversity
Sustainability

Preserving Rwanda's rich natural heritage

in Biodiversity
Share:

Preserving Rwanda's rich natural heritage

Inspired by Rwanda’s inspiring spirit of regeneration, and the diverse flora and fauna found in this remarkable location, Singita Volcanoes National Park (SVNP) allows guests to reconnect with the natural world in a truly poignant way.

Sharing a 1.2km border with Volcanoes National Park and surrounded by towering volcanoes, rolling green hills and rainforests, the magnificent setting defines the impactful experience of visiting Singita Kwitonda Lodge and the exclusive-use Kataza House, which each offer an incomparable connection to the wilderness.

Central to your experience is the life-changing privilege of seeing Rwanda’s mountain gorillas up close. With trekking experiences within easy reach, our guests can cherish these encounters while being immersed in landscapes that celebrate the land of 1000 hills’ unique beauty.

The magical landscape of Singita Volcanoes National Park is home to myriad plant, tree, bird and mammal species – and its preservation is crucial to supporting the diversity of life here

Honouring the home of the mountain gorilla

At Singita Volcanoes National Park, we are committed to the protection of Rwanda’s endangered mountain gorillas and a large portion of the conservation work we support here is focused on the landscape itself – as its restoration goes towards increasing their habitat. Additionally, mountain gorillas act as an umbrella species for the conservation of many endangered forest species. Singita's goal is to not only help preserve this wilderness but also to support the plans of the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and the Government of Rwanda to expand Volcanoes National Park (one of Africa’s oldest protected areas – established in 1925).

Volcanoes National Park, which borders on Singita's property in Rwanda is home to the endangered mountain gorilla. The protection of its habitat is crucial, and also benefits the many endangered species who live in the forests

“Singita Volcanoes National Park serves as a buffer zone between the national park and neighbouring community activities and as a refuge for so many other forest species,” says Angela Shillan, Biodiversity Coordinator at Singita.

In addition to the 250,000 trees and shrubs which were planted during the construction of SVNP and the 1,000 Hagenia trees planted in partnership with the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International (DFGFI) and the African Community and Conservation Foundation (ACCF) in April this year, the final reforestation plan will see further indigenous species, sourced from a local cooperative, planted in key areas.

The planting of indigenous trees and shrubs in Singita Volcanoes National Park has brought many forest species – bird and mammal – back to this buffer zone

These interventions have shown how quickly unique forest species return to these buffer areas. “With the establishment of indigenous trees and shrubs, we’ve documented new species as well as the return of others. Our bird list has doubled since 2019,” says Angela. Mammals are finding sanctuary too in the reforested areas around the property – including elephant, buffalo, jackal, bushbuck, mountain gorilla and serval.

Safeguarding the orchids of Rwanda

Initiated by specialist Michael Tibbs, our Orchid Project is a special conservation legacy project. It highlights the importance of preserving and propagating species that are endemic to the region but have suffered heavy losses due to widespread deforestation and agricultural cultivation. Currently, more than 330 orchids grow in the Akarabo Nursery and around the Singita property, representing 37 different species, and thousands of terrestrial orchids that flower almost year-round are seen around the site. Michael aims to continue a search-and-rescue process across Rwanda, collecting seed and adding to this unique collection.

WATCH Robert Mugabe, a Conservationist at Singita Volcanoes National Park, manages various programmes, one of which is the Orchid Project

His vision also includes working in partnership with SVNP, RDB and the University of Kigali, Musanze Campus to support a local research student to undertake the propagation of these plants in the Musanze Campus laboratory. “Once a student is able to propagate them, we will be in a position to introduce these within the reforested Singita property and the national parks,” says Robert Mugabe, Singita’s resident Conservationist and amateur orchid enthusiast.

Currently 330 orchids, from 37 species grow across the Singita property and in the Akarabo Nursery – with the goal being to keep expanding their diversity

Being part of the process

Singita’s guests are always encouraged to get involved with and experience our conservation work firsthand. There are myriad ways to do this in Rwanda. From the food you enjoy (10% of the produce in our kitchens comes from our on-site Akarabo Nursery and garden and the remainder is sourced from local suppliers), or a tree you plant on the property, you too become part of the rewilding legacy here.

Guests also have the opportunity to engage with our on-site conservationists – Robert and Charles Nsabimana – whose knowledge will enrich their stays exponentially. The lodge’s dedicated Conservation Room for trekking briefings also enables guests to learn and read more about the natural history of the area. “But one of the best ways to engage with Robert and Charles is on nature walks, where they’ll point out some of the indigenous orchids and birds, as well as share their experiences – from guiding in Nyungwe Forest to habituating gorillas in Volcanoes National Park,” says Angela.

A nature walk, or time in our Conservation Room at Singita Kwitonda Lodge with Conservationists Charles Nsabimana and Robert Mugabe deeply enriches a guest's stay at Singita Volcanoes National Park

Discover Singita Volcanoes National Park

Singita Kwitonda Lodge and Kataza House offer unparalleled proximity to one of the world’s most precious wilderness areas – Volcanoes National Park. For more, click here >

Related Stories

September 2022
Community

Committed to the future of Zimbabwe’s wild spaces