Developing a bird-naming protocol for the long-term conservation of Rwandan birds and cultural heritage by Dr Marie Laure Rurangwa, Research and Conservation Manager at Wildlife Trust Rwanda

Primary tabs



The rapid disappearance of traditional ornithological knowledge in Rwanda has adversely affected the community’s sense of stewardship, and education experiences. To address this challenge, a group of passionate birders initiated a project with two main objectives: 1) document existing bird names in Kinyarwanda, and associated traditional knowledge and practice; and 2) develop a protocol that extends group names to the species level. In this talk, we will cover the project progress, present the bird-naming protocol, and discuss project implications for the long-term conservation of birds and associated cultural heritage. It is expected that this project will raise awareness on the plight of birds and reinforce conservation efforts.


Laure is the research and conservation manager at Wildlife Trust Rwanda, and an affiliate lecturer at IPRC Kitabi. She holds a Doctoral degree from the School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford and a Master’s degree in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management from the same school. She obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Zoology and Conservation from the National University of Rwanda. Her research interest lies in the responses of the Rwandan avian diversity to human-induced habitat modification, particularly forest conversions, intensive agriculture and invasive species using approaches spanning community ecology to social science for potential applications in conservation strategies. Since 2018, Laure has led a project that explores the names of Rwandan birds and associated beliefs and practices. Her published works include:

Rurangwa, M.L., Niyigaba, P., Tobias, J.A & Whittaker, J.R. (2022). Functional and phylogenetic diversity of an agricultural matrix avifauna: the role of habitat heterogeneity in Afrotropical farmland. Ecology and Evolution.

Rurangwa, M.L., Aguirre-Gutiérrez, J., Matthews, T.J., Niyigaba, P., Wayman, J.P., Tobias, J.A & Whittaker, J.R. (2021). Effects of land-use change on avian taxonomic, functional and phylogenetic diversity in a tropical montane rainforest. Diversity and Distributions.

Rurangwa, M.L., Matthews, T.J., Niyigaba, P., Tobias, J.A & Whittaker, J.R. (2021). Assessing tropical forest restoration after fire using birds as indicators: An afrotropical case study. Forest Ecology and Management.

Rurangwa, M.L., Whittaker, J.R. (2020) Making space for birds: Sourcing solutions from the mountain gorilla conservation model in Rwanda. Journal for Nature Conservation.