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Akagera National Park

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Located in North Easter Rwanda, bordering with Tanzania, Akagera, named after the Kagera River that flows into it, is the largest protected wetland in Central Africa.


On its inception in 1934, the park originally covered 2500 sqkm but in 1997 after the genocide, it saw its borders reduced in half as the other half was reallocated to refugees returning to Rwanda. The earlier allocation had also interfered with the park laying harm through poaching and cultivation.

In 2009, a joint management agreement was established between Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and the Akagera Management Company (AMC). This has seen the following accomplishments within the park, not limited to increasing security around the park and reintroduction of locally extinct species;

  • &Beyond's donation of 7 lions (5 lionesses and 2 male lions) from South Africa (Phinda Private Game Reserve and Tembe Elephant Park in Kwa Zulu Natal, respectively) to the park making them the first lions in Rwanda in 15 years.

  • A 10 year absence saw the re-introduction of 18 Eastern black rhinos from South Africa, making the park now home to the big 5.

  • Akagera received an additional 5 Eastern Black Rhinos (2 males and 3 females) from 3 different zoos from 3 different countries in Europe which were direct descendants of rhinos taken from Africa during the colonial period.

All these efforts have led to the increased mammal population in the park from at least 4,000 animals in 2010 to a recorded high of at least 13,500 animals in 2018, and growing.

Other wildlife that can be spotted at Akagera include hyenas, zebras, maasai giraffes, bushbacks, roan antelopes, topis, oribis, cape eland, impalas; primates such as the olive baboons, nocturnal bus babies and hippos and crocodiles in the shallow waters of Lake Ihema.

The park is additionally home to 520 bird species from water birds to forest birds, and endemic birds such as the papyrus gonolex found in papyrus swamps. The localized red-faced barbets, the swamp flycatcher and the elusive shoebill stork are also found here. Other bird species include grey-backed fiscals, cattle egret, hamerkop, pied crow, long-crested eagle and angu buzzard.

Night game drives are also conducted here through the services of the park. All game drives, including day game drives, are conducted on road via tour guides or self-drive.

  • The first hot air balloon experience was launched in Rwanda, operating from the Akagera National Park and provided by Royal Balloon Services.

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