Rwanda introduces ‘gorilla tax’


KIGALI (eTN) – Rwandan companies using the country’s famous mountain gorillas’ image for marketing purposes will have to pay a tax aimed at financing the endangered species protection, officials announced Monday.

“We are launching this campaign to generate income earmarked for the species’ protection,” said Fidele Ruzigandekwe, in charge of conservation at the Rwandan Office of Tourism and National Parks.

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There are an estimated 720 surviving mountain gorillas in the world. They live in national parks straddling the borders between Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Genocide-scarred Rwanda is attempting to revamp its economy and has ambitious plans to develop the tourism sector, whose main source of revenue is gorilla-watching by high-end foreign tourists.

“From now on, any company using the gorillas’ image for advertising or any other commercial purpose will have to pay a tax to finance the Volcanos Park and specifically the gorilla conservation programme,” Ruzigandekwe said.

The new law is to come into force at the beginning of 2008.

Officials hope annual revenue from tourism will triple in coming years to top 100 million dollars by 2010.