Seeing Rhinos in Rwanda’s Akagera National Park: Akagera National Park in Rwanda is the biggest wetland reserve in Central Africa and the country’s sole major wildlife preserve. The park is the only one of Rwanda’s three national parks where travelers may see animals such as the Big Five Animals.
Following the 1994 Rwanda Genocide, which saw part of the national park destroyed, Akagera National Park has long since moved on. In the late 1970s, there were around 50 rhinos in Akagera National Park, all of which resided in the park’s savanna regions. However, once the Rwanda civil war ended, the whole rhino population in Akagera was slaughtered by famers who returned to Rwanda as refugees.
Most Rwandan refugees who came home after the genocide turned to the park’s forests for timber, grazing their timber, and hunting down animals for bush meat.
However, in 2010, the Rwanda Development Board, in collaboration with African Parks, took over administration of the national park, and because to both parties’ conservation efforts, most of the park has been restored to its former grandeur.
The restoration of the black rhinoceros to Akagera National Area is one of the many and successful conservation efforts in the park. In May 2017, the first rhino translocation to Akagera took place, with 18 black eastern rhinoceros being relocated from South Africa to the national park. This is the outcome of a successful partnership between the Rwanda Development Board, African Parks, and the Howard G. Buffet Foundation, which saw the species reintroduced into the park after a 10-year hiatus.
The initial relocation of this rhinoceros to Akagera National Park required a 2,486-mile travel from South Africa to Rwanda. Since then, the number of rhinos in Akagera has risen on its own.
This follows the restoration of lions into the national park in July 2015, and the subsequent relocation of two additional male lions to the park in an attempt to enhance the population of the current pride.
Furthermore, five additional rhinos were relocated from Europe to Akagera National Park. The European Association of Zoos and Aquaria moved five rhinos, three females and two males, from various zoos in Europe and gave them to Rwanda on June 24, 2019. (EAZA). Jasiri, Jasmina, Manny, Mandela, and Olmoti, the five rhinos, were flown to the national park aboard a chartered Boeing 747-400F cargo jet operated by Air Atlanta.
This is a sign of trust and cooperation between zoos and conservation groups all around the world. The rhinos Jasiri, Jasmina, and Manny were born at the Czech Republic’s Safari Park Dvur Kralove zoo.
Mandela is from Denmark’s Ree Park Safari Zoo, while Olmoti is from the United Kingdom’s Flamingo Land. The rhinos range in age from two to nine years old, and tourists visiting Rwanda’s Akagera national park can witness any of these rhinos while on a game drive in the area.
The relocation of these five rhinos to Rwanda’s Akagera National Park is the longest rhino translocation from Europe to Africa in history. It was a 6,000-kilometer cross-continent expedition from the Republic of Czechoslovakia to Akagera.
This exhibit of conservation efforts exemplifies how zoos, together with environmental and conservation groups, may collaborate to assist efforts to ensure the vulnerable species’ long-term survival.
Prior to the reintroduction of black eastern rhinos into Akagera National Park in 2017, a number of national park workers participated in years of study and training in rhino planning, preparation, tracking, and monitoring. All of this was done to protect the species from poachers while they were in the national park.
Visitors to Rwanda’s Akagera National Park now have a fair chance of seeing rhinos in the park, following a 10-year hiatus. Following the establishment of an anti-poaching team in Akagera, the deployment of a helicopter for aerial surveillance, and the rise in the number of park rangers to strengthen security in the park, a lot has changed in terms of security and development in the national park.
The African continent is thought to have less than 5,000 black rhinoceros, with the bulk of the species residing in South Africa. The reintroduction of black eastern rhinos into Akagera National Park has resulted in an increase in the number of tourists visiting the park, with over 44,000 visitors in 2018.
In addition, the Rwandan government’s total yearly revenue from tourism operations in Akagera National Park has increased by US$2 million. This demonstrates that the national park is rapidly developing, thanks to the combined efforts of the Rwanda Development Board, the government of Rwanda, communities living within and adjacent to Akagera national parks, and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as the Howard G. Buffet Foundation, EAZA (European Association of Zoos and Aquaria), and African Parks, Seeing Rhinos in Rwanda’s Akagera National Park.
Over 20 black rhinos, over 100 savanna elephants, and more than 15 lions may be found at Akagera National Park. The national park is home to over 500 bird species, making it a popular site for Rwanda birding excursions. The park is also home to a number of primate species, including the olive baboon, silver monkeys, vervet monkeys, and blue monkeys.
In 2021, Akagera national park also welcomed the arrival of 30 white rhinos from AndBeyond Private Game Reserve in South Africa. This latest acquisition makes Akagera national park on of the few national parks in Africa where you can see both the white and black rhinoceros in their natural habitat.
Aside from seeing both black and white rhinos during your visit to Akagera National Park, travellers visiting the national park will also have the opportunity to observe lions, zebras, giraffes, duikers, crocodiles, hippos, hyenas, antelopes, and many other exotic creatures. The park provides day and night guided game drives for a cost of US$35 and US$45, respectively.
Visitors to Rwanda’s Akagera National Park may participate in a variety of activities such as camping, a boat trip, guided nature walks, wildlife drives, fishing, and village visits, among others.
Finding Accommodation in Akagera National Park.
Tourists staying in the national park for two or more days can find lodging at the following lodges: Magashi Safari Camp, Akagera Game Lodge, Karenge Bush Camp, and Ruzizi Tented Lodge.
How you can get to Akagera National Park in Rwanda.
The Akagera National Park is around 212 hours’ drive from Kigali City, located approximately 110 kilometers from the city center. The national park is located in Rwanda’s north-eastern area, along the country’s border with Tanzania.