Akagera National Park

Akagera National Park

Akagera national park is Rwanda’s second largest protected area covering 90,000 hectares. This savanna park’s original territory has been greatly reduced to its current size with settlement of former refugees greatly encroaching on the park area. The Rwandan genocide is greatly responsible for the extinction of some of the park’s wildlife and for the greatly reduced numbers of those that are existent. The Rwandan government however, has put in place strategies to revive the former glory of the country’s tourism industry. This protected area is made up of a labyrinth of swamps and lakes that follow the meandering course of the Akagera River from which the park derives its name.

Gazetted in 1936, Akagera has been labelled a big game country. The park boasts of large pods of hippos; buffaloes, elephants, zebra and giraffe.

Lucky visitors may stumble across a spotted hyena, leopard or even lion. Antelope species like: Sitatunga, Impala, oribi, bush buck, cape eland and tsessebe are also resident in this park.

During the day smaller predators are well represented by dwarf, banded and black-tailed mongooses, while at night there is a chance of coming across, the heavily spotted cat-like genet, and the bulkier black-masked civet. The handsome spotted several cat and the dog-like side-striped jackal are also present, but rarely seen.

Also very common are three savannah primates: the olive baboon, vervet monkey, and bush baby. The diurnal warthog is very common and often seen, while the smaller nocturnal bush pig, is present but you will be lucky to see one.

Akagera is an important ornithological park in Rwanda accommodating a reasonable quantity of 525 bird species. Bird species are supported by both the Savannah and aquatic habitats that the park has to offer.

Common Savannah birds include: the lilac-breasted roller, black-headed Gonolek, little bee-eater, Heuglin’s robin-chat, brown parrot, grey horn-bill, bare-faced go-away bird, e.t.c.

The riparian woodland around the lakes hosts a number of specialized species like Ross’s Turaco, the crested barbet, Arnot’s chat and Souza’s shrike.

Resident raptors include; White-backed and Ruppell’s griffon vultures, bateleur eagle, brown snake eagles and hooded vultures.

Common water birds include: pelicans, crowned crane, open-bill stork, marabou stork, goliath heron, black-capped night heron and reed-dwelling purple heron.

The lakes also support a variety of smaller kingfishers, shorebirds and fish eagles. Restricted papyrus swamp species include; papyrus Gonolek, Caruther’s cistocal, white-winged warbler and the shoebill – an enormous and unmistakable slate-grey swamp-dweller. Look out for reptiles like the outsized crocodile, water monitor and the rock agama in this park.