Kyambura Gorge Lodge, which opened in July 2011, is Volcanoes Safaris’ newest lodge. The VSPT has been working to establish projects that have long term benefits and deep rooted links to the community. The VSPT has sponsored research by US primatologist Nicole Simmons to investigate the state of the chimpanzee population in the gorge. Her research has shown that the population has halved in the last 20 years. Nicole is now the VSPT Project Co-ordinator at Kyambura Gorge, where she also lives. She continues to work with the community to develop projects that meet their needs and to enhance their livelihoods.
Kyambura Gorge Eco-Tourism Partnership Projects
Through these projects the VSPT helps to link Kyambura Gorge Lodge to the community and help promote sustainable eco-tourism and conservation. Initiatives include a demonstration garden for the local community to learn about modern sustainable farming techniques and use of organic pesticides. The garden is also used as an educational resource for the local Kyenzaza Primary School. The Omumashaka Community Performance Group is made up of 30 members from the local area. Representing members from five local tribes, they perform plays for the community and Volcanoes Safaris clients about issues including AIDS awareness and the environment. These projects are lead by our VSPT Coordinator, Nicole Simmons.
Kyambura Woman's Coffee Cooperative
The Kyambura Woman’s Coffee Cooperative provides a vital source of extra income for local families. The women and their families harvest coffee from 100 acre site owned by the VSPT, and then process, roast and package their own coffee at a dedicated processing station opposite Kyambura Gorge Lodge. The VSPT sponsored a counselling session to teach co-operative management and finance. The group have now drafted a constitution and are a fully-functioning co-operative. The coffee plantation also acts as a buffer zone between the protected area of the gorge and local farmlands, reducing animal / human conflict. Profiles on two of the ladies from the Cooperative can be found on our blog!
The Volcanoes Wetland Project - Kyambura Gorge
The VSPT secured 30-acres of wetland south of the Volcanoes Safaris Kyambura Gorge lodge. The wetland, which previously had been used as an illegal brick works, is now regenerating rapidly back to its natural state. The rejuvenated wetlands now attract over 100 species of birds and the sight is used to train members of the community in birding and guiding. This project has been a key success for the VSPT, particularly regarding its ecosystem conservation efforts with the amount of species that have now repopulated the area adding new entries to the spotters' lists almost daily.
Empundu Community Playground, Kyambura Gorge
Opened in November 2010, the playground was built by members of the community and on land purchased by the VSPT. The playground provides a safe environment for local children and focal point for the local community. The area is used for football, netball and the local Kyenzaza Primary School’s fitness lessons. By supporting the local community, the VSPT seeks to encourage conservation of chimpanzees and other local wildlife. In March 2012, the VSPT sponsored uniforms for the Kyenzaza Men's Football Team and Kyenzaza Primary School's boys' team. In return for these uniforms, the teams are being trained how to maintain the ground on their own.
Rusty Roof Exchange, Kyambura Gorge
In 2011, the VSPT partnered with Kyambura Gorge Lodge to provide new roofs for families in the Kyambura area. Five family homes and one primary school were re-roofed between June and December 2011. In March 2012 Kirungu and Kichiwamba primary schools and a mosque in Kyenzaza were also re-roofed. The iron sheets were purchased by the VSPT and the Volcanoes Safaris construction team provided transport and helped with the removal and installation of the new roofs. The new roofs will help keep the families dry and healthy during the rainy seasons, improving their welfare through VSPT support. Families who benefited from the initiative were single parents raising children orphaned by AIDS or caring for physically-discabled or HIV-positive family members.
Bee-Keeping Training, Kyambura Gorge
In January 2012 the VSPT, in association with Malaika Honey, invited fifteen people to be trained as beekeepers. The course provided apiary management, care and harvesting information to members of the Omumashaka Bee Keepers Co-Operative, who have been producing honey in Kyambura since 2006. The local farmers were taught the necessary skills to become commercial beekeepers through practical, on-site training.