Tracking Rhinos in Akagera National Park.

Tracking Rhinos in Akagera National Park: Seeing rhinos during a game drive in Akagera national park is what marks the highlight of any safari in Rwanda. Visitors on a Rwanda safari in Akagera national park are always on the lookout for the park’s rhinoceros and other members of the Big Five animal family, which include; the African savannah elephant, Cape buffalo, Leopard, and Lion. 

Tracking Rhinos in Akagera National Park.

Visitors interested in tracking rhinos in Akagera national park might need to drive off designated game drive tracks in order to locate the rhinos.  Rhinos in Akagera national park are best seen in the early morning hours as they head out to the river banks to graze and around designated water pools in the park in the hot afternoons where they can be found quenching their thirst.

The number of rhinos in Akagera national park has greatly increased as a result of conservation efforts of the RDB (Rwanda Development Board), along with African Parks which is a non-government organization that jointly manages the park.

History of Rhinos in Akagera National Park.

In the late 1970s, Akagera national park had a set record of over 50 rhinos roaming its savannah grasslands. However, following the return of Rwandan refugees who had fled the 1994 Rwanda Genocide, the entire population of rhinos in the park was killed by farmers for their bush meat.

A large percentage of Akagera national park was destroyed following the settlement of the refugees on park land. A large portion of the forests in the park was cut down for timber and land for livestock grazing.

In 2010, the Akagera Management Company was formed, comprising of the Rwanda Development Board and Africa Parks, an NGO that manages other national parks on the African Continent. 

It is with thanks to numerous successful conservation efforts of both parties that most of the national park has been restored to its former glory. Among some of the many and successful conservation projects in Akagera National Park, is the reintroduction of the black Rhinoceros to the national park. The first ever translocation of rhinos to Akagera took place in May 2017, where 18 black eastern rhinoceros were transferred from South Africa to the national park. This is a result of the successful collaboration between Rwanda Development Board, African Parks and the Howard. G. Buffet Foundation; which saw the reintroduction of the species after 10 years of their absence in the national park.

The first transfer of these rhinoceros species in the national park entailed a 2,486 mile journey from South Africa to Rwanda. Since then, the number of rhinos in Akagera has spontaneously increased. This comes after the reintroduction of lions in July 2015, in the national park; and later the translocation of two more male lions to the park, in a bid to increase the population of the existing pride.

On the 24th of June 2019, five more rhinos were transferred to Akagera national park from various zoos in Europe. The new arrival of rhinoceros in the park consisted of three females and two male. The rhinos were a donation from the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) to the Rwandan government. These five rhinos are named Jasiri, Jasmina, Manny, Mandela and Olmoti.

At present, Akagera national park in Rwanda has a total of 25 black eastern rhinos. The national park also shelters over 100 African savannah elephants, more than 15 lions and over 500 species of birds. Other wildlife attractions in the park include; the Olive baboon, antelopes, Sitatunga, waterbucks, reedbucks, duikers, giraffes, zebra, crocodiles, hippos and so many more.

Visitors interested in seeing the black eastern rhinos in Akagera national park can always book for a guided game drive safari in the park. The park offers both morning to evening (day) game drives and night game drives as well. The day game drives in Akagera national park cost USD 35 per person and USD 45 dollars for the night guided game drive.

Tracking rhinos in Akagera national park can be combined with an afternoon boat cruise on Lake Ihema. The boat cruise takes about one to two hours and will give visitors an opportunity to view the stunning birdlife around the lake for instance; you will spot various bird species such as; the African skimmer, Egrets, Crowned cranes, and the Rare Shoebill stork.

Activities done in Akagera National Park.

Other activities that visitors in Akagera national park can do besides tracking rhinos include; guided game drives, boat cruise on Lake Ihema, guided nature walks, Walk the line tour, Behind the scenes Akagera tour, Bird watching and community cultural tours.

Tracking Rhinos in Akagera National Park.
Tracking Rhinos in Akagera National Park.

Accommodation in the Park.

Accommodation in Akagera national park is easy to find and the park has a variety of accommodation facilities that range from budget to mid-range and luxury facilities. Some of the accommodation facilities in Akagera National Park include; Akagera Game Lodge, Karenge Bush Camp, and Magashi Safari Camp among others.

How to get to the Park.

Akagera national park can be accessed from Kigali city which is about a 2½ hours’ drive. The national park is located about 110 kilometers from the city center.

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