Bwindi Local Woodcarvers Association

The Bwindi Local Wood Carvers Association is a 30-member group including people of all ages, from children to mature adults.

What we do:

Young children create drawings and post card art, while older youth and adults carve wood into different animals including gorillas, lions, and elephants. We also carve masks, walking sticks, keyrings, earrings, magnets, and household furniture such as beds, chairs, and tables.


We are located in the Bwindi southern ward of Buhoma, Kanungu District, next to the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. We are on the main road, approximately 100 meters before the entrance of the park, opposite of Bwindi bar.


Rutaro (left) and Rasta (right)

The group was started by Rutaro OneSmus and Augastine Muhagyi (also known as Rasta).  Augastine began carving gorilla statues out of wood at the age of 13 after learning the art by studying for several months with wood carvers in Congo.  As a very small child, Rutaro enjoyed observing Augastine carving in his workshop and developed a passion for carving, too.  After learning the art from Augastine, Rutaro and Augastine decided to collaborate and create a group for wood carvers called the Bwindi Local Wood Carvers Association.

Types of wood we use for carving:

We use many  types of wood, but primarily Mahogany and Macadamia wood as they are hard woods that can grow up to 65 meters tall and can be used to create beautiful, long-lasting furniture and gorilla carvings.

Wood sources:

We are fortunate to be able to sustainably grow many trees since we share the same fertile soil and growing conditions as the trees of the Bwindi forest.

Community impact:

The money earned through selling wood-carved art creations has enabled us to change lives in many ways.

  1. People have stopped hunting wild animals for meat because they now have the money to purchase the food they need. Many former poachers are now gorilla conservationists!
  2. Carvers are able to use their earnings to build their own homes and begin raising goats or chickens to provide additional income and nutritious food for their families.
  3. Carvers are able to pay their children’s school fees, so children are able to attend school.
  4. People are able to buy locally made, responsibly produced furniture for their homes, supporting and sustaining the local community.
  5. Wood carvings can be used to tell stories which support the local culture and traditions.

In addition to these benefits, local wood carvers are helping to conserve the environment and prevent deforestation by:

  • Teaching community members how to plant and cut trees in a selective, sustainable way.
  • Fully utilizing all parts of cut trees which decreases waste and reduces the need to cut more trees.
  • Preventing forest fires through community education.

To purchase an item, contact Rutaro via:

In addition to purchasing items, you can also support us via donations.  We partner with the USA-based 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, and your donations are tax-deductible. You can also donate via this way if you are not in the USA (but your donation is not tax-deductible).  For online donations, you can use the form below. If you like to support us via other ways (such as check), you can go to our donation page to learn more.

Many thanks for the support!