Michel Masozera is the country director for the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Rwanda Program. While Growing up as a Rwandan refugee in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), Masozera began his career in conservation with Dr. Amy Vedder, WCS’s vice president of the Living Landscapes Program, in Rwanda’s Nyungwe Forest just after the end of 1994 genocide. Since that time, he has focused his efforts on the needs of humans and wildlife alike. His masters thesis examined the needs of local communities in the densely populated districts around Nyungwe, and he subsequently established a number of community support projects across the region. As Rwandan country director, he worked ceaselessly to conserve Nyungwe’s biodiversity, home for 13 species of primate and some 270 species of bird. He led the first comprehensive biological survey of the forest, which resulted in the reserve being zoned into areas of highest conservation importance and multi-use zones allowing limited resource use by local people. Masozera’s efforts were rewarded with the government’s creation of Nyungwe National Park in 2004, an enormous commitment for a nation with the highest human population density in Africa.
Masozera is currently establishing a low-impact ecotourism program for the park, involving habituated chimpanzees and local guides, which in turn will generate revenue for local communities. He is also guiding a large UN-funded planning process for all of Rwanda’s national parks which will hopefully generate long-term support for these areas.