Akagera

Akagera

Things to do - general

Akagera National Park is located in the north east of Rwanda along the border with Tanzania. Although founded in 1934, much of the park was re-allocated as farms and in 1997 the park was reduced in size from more than 2,500 sq km (nearly 10% of the surface area of Rwanda) to its current extent of 1,122 sq km. Since 2010, a joint venture with African Parks has seen Akagera return to its former glories.

Akagera National Park is located in the north east of Rwanda. This is along the border with Tanzania. Although founded in 1934, much of the park was re-allocated as farms and in 1997. The park was reduced in size from more than 2,500 sq km. This is nearly 10% of the surface area of Rwanda. Currently Akagera National Park has an area of 1,122 sq km. Since 2010, a joint venture with African Parks has seen Akagera return to its former glories.

Where Does Akagera National Park Get Its Name?

Akagera National Park is named after the Akagera River. The river flows along its eastern boundary and feeds into a labyrinth of lakes. The largest of this is Lake Ihema. There is a forest fringed lakes, papyrus swamps, savannah plains and rolling highlands. They combine to make Akagera National Park’s amongst the most scenic of reserves anywhere in Africa. It has exceptional levels of biodiversity and forms the largest protected wetland in central Africa.

The Inhabitants of Akagera National Park

Akagera National Park combines well with Nyungwe and the Volcanoes NP. This is to offer a great Africa safari in Rwanda. Akagera National Park is home to many large plains game species. It also plays home to restrict to the papyrus swamps such as the Sitatunga and the sought-after Shoebill Stork. Notable plains game includes elephant, buffalo, topi, zebra, waterbuck, roan antelope and eland. Other antelope are duiker, oribi, bohor reedbuck, klipspringer, bushbuck and impala.

Of the primates, olive baboons, vervets and the secretive blue monkey are seen during the day. Bush babies are often seen on night drives. Of the larger predators leopard, hyena, side-striped jackal and lion are present. Plans are underway for the reintroduction of the black rhino too. This will restore Akagera National Park’s ‘Big 5’ status. Due to its wide variety of habitats, Akagera National Park is an important ornithological site. This Park in Rwanda has nearly over 500 bird species. The rare and elusive shoebill shares the papyrus with other rarities. They include the exquisite papyrus gonolek and countless other water birds that inhabit the wetlands.

It is named after the Akagera River that flows along its eastern boundary and feeds into a labyrinth of lakes of which the largest is Lake Ihema. The forest fringed lakes, papyrus swamps, savannah plains and rolling highlands combine to make Akagera amongst the most scenic of reserves anywhere in Africa. It has exceptional levels of biodiversity and forms the largest protected wetland in central Africa.

Akagera combines well with Nyungwe and the Volcanoes NP to offer a great Rwanda safari experience as it is home to many large plains game species as well as species restricted to the papyrus swamps such as the Sitatunga and the sought-after Shoebill Stork. Notable plains game include elephant, buffalo, topi, zebra, waterbuck, roan antelope and eland. Other antelope are duiker, oribi, bohor reedbuck, klipspringer, bushbuck and impala. Of the primates, olive baboons, vervets and the secretive blue monkey are seen during the day, with bushbabies often seen on night drives.

Of the larger predators include leopard, hyena, side-striped jackal and lion, which was re-introduced last year are present. Plans are underway for the reintroduction of the black rhino too, and this will restore Akagera’s ‘Big 5’ status

Due to its wide variety of habitats, Akagera is an important ornithological site with nearly 500 bird species. The rare and elusive shoebill shares the papyrus with other rarities such as the exquisite papyrus gonolek and countless other water birds that inhabit the wetlands in large numbers.

Akagera National Park: The History

Much of the savannah area of the park was settled in the late 1990s by former refugees returning after the end of the Rwandan Civil War. Due to land shortages, in 1997, the western boundary was regazetted and much of the land allocated as farms to returning refugees. The park was reduced in size from over 2,500 square kilometres (250,000 ha) to its current size. Although much of the best savannah grazing land is now outside the park boundaries, what remains of Akagera is some of the most diverse and scenic landscape in Africa.

In 2009 the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and the African Parks Network entered into a 20-year renewable agreement for the joint management of Akagera. The Akagera Management Company was formed in 2010 as the joint management body for Akagera National Park. Over the next 5 years a $ 10 million expenditure was carried out in the national park area, with financial help from the Howard Buffett Foundation.

The aim was to increase the security of the national park and to reintroduce locally extinct species. Security measures that were taken include: the construction of a western boundary fence which measures 120.0 kilometres (74.6 miles), deploying an air surveillance helicopter, training of an expert rhino tracking and protection team and a canine anti-poaching unit.

In July 2015, 7 Transvaal lions from South Africa were introduced and released in the park, making them the first lions in Rwanda for 15 years. Some five lionesses were also donated from Phinda Private Game Reserve and Tembe Elephant Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal donated two male lions, in an effort that was described by African Parks as “a ground-breaking conservation effort for both the park and the country” as part of a project aimed at reversing the local extinction of the species in Akagera National Park.

The original Eastern African lions, which were nevertheless closely related to Southern African lions, disappeared in the years following the 1994 genocide in the country. Rwandans who had fled the aggression, before returning and settling in the park, killed the lions in order to protect their livestock.

In May 2017, Rwanda reintroduced around 20 Eastern black rhinoceroses from South Africa, after an absence of 10 years. More than 50 black rhinos lived in the savannah-habitat of the park, in the 1970s. Due to widespread poaching, their numbers declined over the following decades, and previously, the last confirmed sighting was in 2007.

Country Rwanda
Languages spokenFrench, English, Kinyarwanda
Currency usedRwandese Franc (RWF)
Area (km2)1,122 sq km
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