The Big Five Animals In Rwanda : The big five animals within Rwanda are only found in Akagera National park which is situated in the northeastern part of Rwanda in kibungu district. Akagera national park is the only refugee left in Rwanda for the savannah wildlife in the country. The park is a home to over 8000 wildlife species including the black eastern rhinoceros, cape buffalo, lions, leopards, over 100 savannah elephants, antelope, impala, hippos, crocodiles and over 500 bird species. Akagera national park is the biggest park in Rwanda with an area cover of 1,122km2. The park was first established in 1934, making it one of the oldest national parks on the African continent. The park was gazette as a national park to protect its unique bio-diversity of plants and animals in three major areas which include savannah grasslands, mountains and marshlands.
It’s unbelievable that once upon a time a huge portion of the park and its wildlife was lost because of a continuous series of poaching activities, deforestation and encroachment of park land to create room for farming and animal grazing. Many wildlife species became extinct in Akagera national park most especially the lions and rhinos. The last sighting of the black rhino in the park was in 2007. However in 1970, the management of Akagera national park decided to revive the park again to restore its lost glory. The park successfully relocated a large number of elephants back in a bid to protect and boost the diminishing population of these species. In addition 300 lions were seen roaming within the national park, thousands of antelopes, zebras and buffaloes.
After the Rwandan genocide of 1994, many refugees returned to the country and many settled in areas within and around the park. Much of the land and forest was cleared to create land for farming and cattle grazing. Many animals in the park were hunted down as an alternative source of proteins to feed the masses. However in 2009, a joint management agreement was signed between the Rwanda Development Board and African parks as well as a conservation NGO. This joint venture saw the two organizations take over the management of Akagera National Park with the establishment of Akagera Management Board in 2010. From that time, a lot of improvements have been made in regard to the conservation of wildlife species in the park. Recently the park has over 100 savannah elephants, more than 80 giraffes and over 20 lions. While on a safari tourists can spot the famous big five animals within the park and these include;
The leopards are spotted while on the game drive within Akagera National Park. The leopard is naturally shy and a deadly animal as well. Compared to other cat species in the wild, the leopard has short legs and a long body with a large skull. Its rosette fur marked body makes it hard for tourists to spot it within the wild. The leopard spends most of its time isolated from other animals hiding in trees and behind tall grass. Leopards within the park are hard to spot especially during the day and thus tourists can spot the leopards during the guided night game drive.
In 2015, the park received 7 lions from South Africa where 5 are females and two males flourishing in the savannah areas. The numbers doubled in the first year with the birth of eleven cubs. Then in 2017, two additional male lions were brought into the park from South Africa thus increasing on the population. These can be spotted while on the game drive within Akagera national park
AFRICAN SAVANNAH ELEPHANTS
The African savannah elephants can’t be missed while talking about the big 5 animals. The savannah elephants are regarded as the largest and heaviest land animals in the world. These animals can weigh up to 6,048kg and can live for over 60 years. Currently the park has over 100 African savannah elephants roaming within Akagera national park and these can be spotted while on a game drive within the park.
AFRICAN BUFFALO IN AKAGERA PARK
These are among the big 5 animals that tourists can spot while on a safari. The Cape buffalo is known to have a bad temper and it can charge so easily at its predators in the sight of danger. This is the reason as to why big game hunters long ago found it challenging to hunt down these species. The exact number of cape buffaloes within the park is unknown but tourists are well assured that they can spot a number of them within the park.
RHINOS IN AKAGERA PARK
The last rhino was sighted within the park in 2007 but currently this isn’t the story today. In May 2007, the African parks in conjunction with the Rwanda Development Board and the Howard.G.Buffet foundation translocated 18 black eastern rhinos from South Africa back into the Akagera national park. This transfer saw the reintroduction of rhinos within the park and Rwanda.
Later the other 5 black Rhinos were translocated from the Czech Republic to Akagera national park in June 2019. This translocation marked the longest in the history of translocation of rhinos from Europe to the African continent. Currently the park boasts with over 20 Rhinoceros and wildlife safari of the big 5 animals.
Therefore, Akagera national park is the only park within the country which gives the tourists a chance to see the big five animals. A big thanks to the conservation projects that run in the national park, the population of the big five animals in the park is steadily increasing.