How Rwanda went from poisoning lions to paying to protect them

Local communities protect their wildlife
spc inside africa rwanda akagera national park c_00030605

    JUST WATCHED

    Local communities protect their wildlife

MUST WATCH

Local communities protect their wildlife 06:11

Every week, Inside Africa takes its viewers on a journey across Africa, exploring the true diversity and depth of different cultures, countries and regions.

Akagera National Park, Rwanda (CNN)In the 1930s, Rwanda's Akagera National Park was a natural wonder, home to a huge range of wildlife.

Then, the 1994 genocide happened. As returnees settled in the park in the following decades, wildlife numbers started to drop dramatically.
"The park was the only spare piece of land in Rwanda. The returnees all settled here with their cows," recalls Jes Gruner, the park's manager.
    "The lions took advantage of the cattle and killed them, and the only way the herdsmen knew how to get rid of the lions was through poisoning."
    Rwandan vet's mission to save endangered bird
    spc inside africa rwanda akagera national park b_00021915

      JUST WATCHED

      Rwandan vet's mission to save endangered bird

    MUST WATCH

    Rwandan vet's mission to save endangered bird 08:36
    Saving Rwanda's precious wildlife
    spc inside africa rwanda akagera national park a_00003025

      JUST WATCHED

      Saving Rwanda's precious wildlife

    MUST WATCH

    Saving Rwanda's precious wildlife 07:52
    In recent years, the Rwandan government has taken steps to preserve the invaluable natural resource, since employing local villagers as guides, and hence incentive to protect the animals left in the park. So far, it's a tactic that seems to be paying off.
    "(In the beginning), we counted, like, 300 buffalos in the whole park. Now there is almost 1,000," says Penninah Kamagaju, a community guide.
    "Even the impala, which is a kind of antelope. Those have really increased a lot. We had 500 and now there is 5,000," she estimates.
    Attitudes towards wildlife protection have also changed considerably.
    "Our grandfathers and our fathers were poachers because they didn't understand why it's important to protect the area," notes Daniel Nishimwe, another community guide.
    "But as the young generation, we studied about conservation and we know why it is important to protect the area."