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SOS Rhino : In the News : Rwanda plans to import rhinos to boost tourism

Rwanda plans to import rhinos to boost tourism

  September, 27 – 7:32 AM
Dominican Today

Kigali – Rwanda, home to a third of the world's mountain gorillas, plans to import up to 20 rhinos over the next 15 years to draw more tourists to the tiny central African country, a tourism official said on Tuesday.

Fidel Ruzigandekwe, director of the wildlife agency in the Office of Tourism and National Parks, said talks had already started between Rwanda and officials from Kenya and South Africa – both possible suppliers for the rhinos.

"We are still in negotiations with potential sources of the animals. Our vision is to have at least 20 rhinos within a period of 15 years," Ruzigandekwe told Reuters.

"Bringing in rhinos will help us diversify what we have to offer tourists coming to this country," he said, adding: "We will import some and others will come as donations."

He said the animals would be introduced to the eastern Akagera national park where a game ranger recently spotted a rhino despite previous reports of the animal's extinction in the park, also home to zebras, giraffes and elephants.

The mountainous country, split by the Great Rift Valley, is striving hard to change its image stained by the 1994 genocide of some 800,000 minority Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus in 100 days of state-sponsored killing.

Tourism has become Rwanda's third source of foreign income, with most visitors heading straight for the mountain gorillas who inhabit misty rain forests near smouldering volcanoes.

There are only about 700 mountain gorillas left in the world, with one third living in Rwanda.

Some 45,000 tourists visited Rwanda last year earning the country $10 million in foreign exchange, with $100 million targeted by 2010.

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