The Karisoke education department has had another busy month, with the annual visit from second-year biology students from the National University of Rwanda. The 34 students arrived in two groups for a four-day course intended to introduce them to the concepts of biodiversity and conservation, concentrating on the Park National des Volcans and the mountain gorillas. Especially exciting for the students is a visit to one of the tourist gorilla groups, something few Rwandans ever get to experience. The course proved popular once again and many students expressed an interest in studying zoology or botany for their final degree, contributing to Rwanda's future capacity to conserve its own biological heritage.
The village of Bisate is the sector closest to the Karisoke research area within the park, and is the location of our field staff accommodations, as well as being the home of many of our trackers. On May 9, the Karisoke education team visited Bisate School to distribute pens, notebooks and mathematics sets to the children. Serge Nsengimana, Karisoke education program officer, talked with the parents, teachers and pupils about the importance of the park and the gorillas. By helping to improve the educational opportunities of these children and by creating a positive image for the park in those who are most affected by it, Karisoke hopes to continue to foster a happy and mutually beneficial relationship with the Bisate community for many years to come. This activity was sponsored by Partners in Conservation, which works under the auspices of the Columbus, Ohio Zoo, to support conservation and humanitarian projects in East Central Africa, as well as conservation education programs in the United States.