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Summer campers learn about gorillas and conservation in Rwanda

Summertime means summer camp with lots of fun, and the Fossey Fund’s new Ellen Campus in Rwanda at the foot of Volcanoes National Park is the perfect place to do both. This year, the Fossey Fund hosted 80 students from six primary schools that are located near the park, which is home to the endangered mountain gorilla and other important animals and plants. Our campus is within sight of the volcanoes and has wonderful nature trails, interactive exhibits, and other great spaces for children to learn about conservation while having a great time.

Our summer conservation camp is held in partnership with Children in the Wilderness (CITW), Conservation Heritage-Turambe (CHT), and Muhisimbi Voice of Youth in Conservation Group. The camp includes a variety of conservation presentations and games, on topics such as gorilla ecology, national parks and biodiversity, as well as showing the children ways they can participate in conservation, now and in the future. They also get to meet our scientists and other staff and to learn up close how the Fossey Fund does its research and other work.

One new conservation activity this year is called the Parade of Trees. In this activity students chose a seedling from a tree nursery run by Children in the Wilderness. Then they walked with their seedlings from the nursery to the campus – about 1 mile – in order to draw positive attention to conservation and show local communities that conservation is happening locally.

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What the kids and staff say:

“Participation in conservation camp inspired my love for wild animals,” said Riza Grace Nikita, primary student at Kampanga school. “Previously I used to love only cows, because I like milk. I didn’t know how wild animals are important to us too. In the camp, I learned that wild animals make the forests grow well, while forests give us oxygen.”

“I was happy to meet with the conservation role models during camp,” says Ihimbazwe Cotty, another primary student. “I would love to be a researcher and my participation in conservation camp helped me learn about doing research with animals and plants. For sure I will become a researcher!”

Elias Nizeyimana, Fossey Fund conservation education assistant, says that conservation camp is an important and engaging way to connect young generations closely to mother nature. 

“I love to see the camp bring students from different schools together and how, for many, it provides their first introduction to nature and the environment and its importance to their own well-being. As an educator, it’s an honor to be part of building the next generation of conservationists.”