2007 Borlaug LEAP Fellow Dr. Michel Masozera was born in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) after his parents fled the revolution in Rwanda. He moved to Rwanda after completing college and 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 established a low-impact ecotourism program for the park, involving habituated chimpanzees and local guides, which in turn will generate revenue for local communities. He also worked on guiding a large UN-funded planning process for all of Rwanda’s national parks to generate long-term support for these areas. He is currently at the World Wildlife Fund serving as the Deputy Leader for Wildlife for Africa.