The park is currently grappling with a range of threats linked to its protection including bushfires, illegal fishing, insufficient forest guards along with tourist guides, insufficient effective protection equipment for tourist guards, and mainly poaching.
Over this is added insufficient surveillance cameras and infrastructure to receive tourists, insufficient GPS to guide tourists in locating places to visit and insufficient tourist aides.
According to the deputy head of Ruvubu National Park, Roger Niyonkuru, it is difficult to protect the park due to the lack of staff.
“There are an estimated 62 staffs to protect more than 50,800 hectares”, said Roger. In addition, we use archaic tools which are not effective such as spears and machetes, he added.
Niyonkuru said that the rangers need guns to fight poachers who come to hunt animals in the park.
However, no figures were released on the number of poachers or animals most threatened.
The rangers are often attacked by poachers who come to hunt animals in the park. These poachers are not afraid of the archaic tools available to the rangers and attack the rangers without worrying about a possible retaliation proportionate to the attack.
To address the challenges facing Ruvubu National Park, park officials said that there is a World Bank project that will provide Ruvubu National Park with infrastructure to accommodate tourists at the Left Bank Sector 1 on the Muyinga side of the province.
In order to combat poaching in Ruvubu National Park, the same project has provided employment to Batwa families living in the vicinity of the park to clear the access tracks.
Park rangers are calling on the government to focus much effort on protecting the park, as it has many benefits for the country.
“The park also contributes to reducing the effects of climate change and the local population does not have any problems with the lack of rainfall,” adds the deputy head of the park.
Niyonkuru said that paramilitary training for forest guards is a necessity, elsewhere in the region especially in the East African Community, forest guards are trained militarily.
They have guns, he added, and they live in tents for days on end. They are fed. They also have sufficient torches and mackintoshes to be able to work in good conditions. They are also always provided with means of transport to travel around the parks.
He called upon the government to allocate a lot of efforts on the protection of this park, as it has many advantages for the country and the population and it could attract more tourists who bring in income to the country
The Ruvubu National Park stretches over four provinces, including Muyinga, Cankuzo, Ruyigi and Karusi. It is made up of 75% savannah, 15% woodland and 8% grassland. Its actual demarcation was done in 1991. Its length is 62km while its width varies between 5 and 13km