Protecting Key Species in Akagera National Park

Timeframe: 2022
Country/Region: Rwanda
Partner: African Parks Network

Akagera National Park is Central Africa’s largest protected wetland and the last remaining refuge for savannah-adapted species in Rwanda. Following resettlement to the area by returning refugees in the 1990’s, two-thirds of the park was degazetted from protected status and the unchecked use of park resources saw lions and rhinos become locally extinct, and livestock and people put major pressure on the ecosystem. Local wildlife started declining rapidly.

After taking over the management of Akagera National Park in 2010, African Parks oversaw a gradual reintroduction program for the previously extirpated rhinos and lions and set up a comprehensive law enforcement and monitoring program for the protection of these species and the rest of the park’s wildlife. Thanks to these efforts poaching was practically eliminated, allowing for the reintroduction of lions in 2015, and black rhinos in 2017 and again in 2019. Effective park management also brought a resurgence of tourism to the local economy.

The support from Fondation Segré will allow African Parks to continue its success in protecting the Akagera ecosystem and helping bolster the national park as an attractive tourism destination, which in time is expected to generate revenue to cover the parks operating costs, including the protection of rhinos and lions. Over the period of the project, African Parks expects to maintain a record of zero rhinos and lions lost to poaching or human-wildlife conflict and to maintain an operational, well-trained, and well-equipped law enforcement and conservation team to cover all land and water areas of the park by foot, vehicle, boat and air.