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PHOTOS: Inside Akagera, Rwanda’s Biggest National Park

The park hasover 2500 zebras (Photos by Paul Mugume / Chimpreports)

Despite the disturbing instability caused by the 1994 genocide in Rwanda where hundreds of thousands of people were butchered, illness http://clubcycloautun.fr/wp-includes/theme.php business brought to standstill and thousands displaced, http://consultants-lactation.org/wp-includes/class-wp-role.php Rwanda remains among the top East African countries with a strong economy at the time.

Rwanda’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which according to World Bank currently stands at USD 8,095 million with a USD 697.3 GDP per capita has been boosted by a number of economic activities including mining, agriculture, Tourism, among others. The tourism sector however remains the biggest contributor.

The country has made efforts to boost the sector through conservation activities like Kwita Izina, a gorilla naming ceremony, cultural activities like Kwibuka, an annual commemoration of the genocide and a revenue sharing scheme between the government and the locals where 5 percent of the tourism revenue is given back to community projects.

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Owing to these initiatives, it is not surprising that Rwanda’s tourism has indeed drastically grown with a variety of amazing services and features that make Rwanda the ideal tourism destination. The country has also dedicated 22 percent of its land to conservation.

Aside from the clean streets in the capital, Kigali, the friendly and welcoming residents and the assured security, other features in Rwanda that attract tourists include food, culture, lakes, rivers and most importantly, the national Parks.

Prominent national parks in Rwanda include Nyungwe in the Southern province, Akagera in the Eastern province, Volcanoes National park in the Northern Province and the newly gazetted Gishwati-Mukula National Park.

Masai girraffes in the park.

Masai girraffes in the park.

Chimpreports’ Paul Mugume who is in Rwanda paid a visit to Akagera, the biggest national park found at the Rwanda-Tanzania border. The park is named after the famous River Kagera which forms the border between the two countries.

Akagera was formed early during colonial times with a focus of preserving the area for scientific purposes. A rich and diverse environment thrived in the area although tourist activity was not allowed.

Mutware, the oldest elephant in Akagera National Park. Its estimated to be above 50 years of age

Mutware, the oldest elephant in Akagera National Park. Its estimated to be above 50 years of age

At independence in 1962, the park was handed over to the management of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry which struggled to maintain it due to lack of trained personnel, insufficient equipment and an inadequate budget.

The government would later open up the park to tourists in order to raise some funds to supplement its budget allocation. In 1975, 26 elephants were introduced and later in 1986 Masai giraffes were also introduced, boosting the fauna in the park.

After the 1994 genocide, returning refugees sought land for their cattle in the park and for lack of options the park was occupied. In 1997, the park was downsized and the remaining area distributed for settlement although damage had been done in form of overgrazing and poaching.

In 2009, the park was put under the management of the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) in close partnership with the African Parks, a not-for-profit organization which takes on long term management responsibilities of African Parks.

Currently, the Park boasts of a variety of animals including elephants, buffaloes, hippos, crocodiles, warthogs, antelopes and primates among others.

According to Sarah Hall, the Marketing and Tourism Development Manager, the park currently has over 100 elephants, over 2500 buffaloes, over 1500 hippos, and 14 lions, having introduced 7 in 2015.

She also notes that the park has various species of trees, plants and birds that would be of interest to tourists.

Bufalloes grazing in the plains

Bufalloes grazing in the plains

Park Management

The park is currently managed by the Akagera Management Company (AMC), an entity formed by the African Parks organization and the regulator RDB on behalf of the government.

It currently employs a total of 43 rangers charged with the responsibility of minimizing poaching and human-wildlife conflict.

Impalas grazing in the national park

Impalas grazing in the national park

The park is also surrounded by an electric wire fence that blocks animals from invading the communities surrounding and also preventing illegal access to the park. A total of 42 fence attendants were also hired for the daily maintenance and monitoring of the fence line.

According to Ms. Hall, the management is planning to introduce African Black Rhinos into the park in a bid to further biodiversity and attract more visitors.

Hospitality and Accommodation

Tourists can be accommodated in the two hotels, the Akagera Game Lodge and Ruzizi tented lodge, all found in the southern part of the park.

The Ruzizi lodge is made of only tents, and also has tents that can be hired for camping in the park.

Akagera game lodge has permanent structures with a restaurant, a swimming pool and a bar.

Some of the tourists visiting the park

Some of the tourists visiting the park

Foods served in the two hotels range from local Rwandan food to international dishes as ordered by the clients.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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