Somebody once said that if you planted a walking stick overnight in Rwandan soil, it would take root before morning dawned. And it’s true, of all African nations, this is for sure one of the most fertile. Invited by African Parks, I traveled through the green rolling hills of this Central African country, learning about how people and wildlife coexist.
Because a very common misunderstanding in the conservation of wild places is to focus solely on the protection of wild places. That might sound odd - but in order to save nature we should save people first. This philosophy stands at the core of the vital work done by African Parks, an organisation that manages 22 national parks across 12 countries in the African continent. A people-first approach to conservation that puts people that live in and around National Parks at the heart of the solution. By showing these communities that they care about their safety, health, education and job security, they create environments in which people feel safe and appreciated - and in safe places, magical things can happen.
On this assignment, I had conversations with the Rwandan people, about their personal experiences with African Parks decade-long presence in the Akagera region as well as its recent emergence in Nyungwe forest. We talked about hope, tragedy, courage and determination. About Rwanda’s tragic history and its bright future. These images are a testament to that.