African Parks' plans to reintroduce black rhinos into Akagera National Park, Rwanda have been given a £100 000 boost by the players of the People's Postcode Lottery in the United Kingdom. It is estimated that the initiative to reintroduce the species into the park after an absence of 10 years will cost more than £1million.
The £100 000 funding for the rhino initiative was announced at the People's Postcode Lottery gala function in Edinburgh last night. The funding will go towards the sourcing, translocation and reintroduction of 10 black rhinos into Akagera National Park later this year.
African Parks was one of 57 beneficiaries that also received additional, unspecified funding of £25 000 at the gala event.
The rhino project in Akagera is an important conservation initiative that will restore black rhino in the park, a species that was nearly eradicated in the 1980s due to wide-scale poaching. They were last seen in park in 2007. The reintroduction of rhinos will solidify Akagera's Big Five status, a classification that will help increase tourism and generate further employment opportunities for local communities. Since 2010, African Parks has managed Akagera National Park in partnership with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), and in just five years, poaching of wildlife has been greatly reduced and is now under control.
The oldest of Rwanda's three national parks, Akagera is 1,120km² in size. The only protected savannah region in Rwanda, the park also consists of rolling hills of acacia, woodlands and a labyrinth of lakes and papyrus swamps; it is home to more than 8,000 large mammals and more than 500 bird species. In July 2015, African Parks successfully reintroduced seven lions into the park, bringing the species back to Rwanda after almost 20 years.
"We are delighted that the players of the People's Postcode Lottery are supporting the return of rhinos to Akagera, said Clara Govier, Head of Charities at People͛s Postcode Lottery. "This project will have such a positive impact on the region in terms of conservation and tourism. The additional funding has also provided vital funding for numerous beneficiaries across Great Britain and internationally"
"African Parks has a proven track record of conservation restoration across the continent, including re- establishing and successfully protecting populations of locally extinct wildlife," said Peter Fearnhead, African Parks CEO. "Akagera, with its rich wildlife, strong law enforcement, community development and tourism opportunities, is a symbol of hope, and rebirth, and serves as a shining example of what
conservation can look like in 2016. We sincerely thank the players of the People's Postcode Lottery for their generous support in helping to bring rhinos, a critically endangered species, back to this spectacular park, and back to Rwanda. The additional funding of £25 000 is also most appreciated and will be used for park initiatives."