Introducing Aline Umutoni – A New Member of the CITW Rwanda Family

Aline Umutoni’s deep commitment to conservation and community empowerment has taken her from strength to strength, and motivated her to positively contribute to the lives of many. In September 2019, she was promoted to Wilderness Safaris Rwanda – Children in the Wilderness (CITW) and Community Coordinator, which will give her the ideal platform to continue driving the company’s Community, Culture and Conservation Cs (three of its sustainability 4Cs, the fourth being Commerce).

She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Forestry and Nature Conservation, as well as a post-graduate Diploma in Wildlife Management from Garoua Wildlife School in Cameroon. After her studies, Aline spent five years working for the Rwanda Development Board at Volcanoes National Park (VNP), where she guided guests on VNP activities, including gorilla trekking, golden monkey trekking and nature walks.

In 2017, she was appointed Guide and Activity Coordinator at Wilderness Safaris Bisate Lodge, becoming part of the team that opened the company’s first camp in Rwanda. In this position she had the opportunity to travel to Zambia and Botswana as part of the company’s regional employee cross-training programme, which enhanced her skill set.

Aline is an inspirational individual, known and loved by many. When she is with guests, she talks passionately about Wilderness Safaris’ conservation and community initiatives, such as the CITW Eco-Club programme at schools. This dedication has inspired many to offer generous donations, impacting over 1 000 surrounding families. She also keeps a list of all the donations received to ensure equal and fair distribution, in agreement with community leaders.

The enthusiastic Aline has been at the forefront of numerous funding projects that continue to contribute to local communities, including a solar light project that saw 172 households receive two solar lights each, and the donation of warm blankets to support 160 Bisate families in the area’s cold climate. She also helped Bisate Primary School with funding to improve their computer learning centre and internet access, as well as facilitated the awarding of eight scholarships. Her most recent project involves providing solar panels in order to guarantee sufficient electricity for the school.

She played a vital role in the planning and implementation of Rwanda’s first CITW Conservation Camp, in partnership with the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International and Muhisimbi Voice of Youth and Conservation Heritage Turambe, held in the VNP area from 23-26 July 2019. It was attended by 40 excited children from four Eco-Clubs, eager to become the country’s future conservation leaders.

In addition to Aline’s aforementioned accomplishments, she is also the recipient of the 2019 PURE Life Experiences Unsung Hero Award, which recognises her tireless efforts to better the community while conserving Rwanda’s unique wilderness areas. Her devotion to conservation, the community and Bisate Primary School extends beyond working hours, and she regularly supports a number of projects during her time off, such as mentoring at Eco-Clubs and planting indigenous trees.

In her new role, Aline is looking forward to positively impacting the lives of more people through Wilderness Safaris Rwanda’s community initiatives. “I have been exposed to so much through Wilderness Safaris, and now have an even greater opportunity to do what I love. Wilderness Safaris has maximized my strengths in community engagement through their support of conservation initiatives that aim to improve people’s lives”, concludes Aline.