African Parks is delighted to announce that yesterday on 'World Wildlife Day' the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs committed €200,000 to the Rwandan Development Board (RDB) in support of bringing black rhino back to Akagera National Park. The funding will go towards the sourcing, translocation, reintroduction and protection of black rhinos into Akagera National Park later this year. This critical support was announced at the Save Wildlife Conference in The Hague. Since 2010, African Parks has managed Akagera through a public private partnership with its government partner, the RDB.
The rhino project in Akagera is a visionary conservation initiative that will see black rhinos restored not just to a park, but to an entire country. The species was nearly eradicated in the 1980's due to wide-scale poaching and the last rhino was seen in the park in 2007. The reintroduction of rhinos will also cement Akagera's Big Five status, a classification that will further stimulate tourism and generate additional employment opportunities for local communities who live outside the park.
"Restoring and protecting wildlife populations are cornerstones of the African Parks model" said Peter Fearnhead, CEO African Parks. "In a time where the main news coming out of Africa is about poaching and large-scale destruction of wildlife and wild places, this rhino reintroduction is a story of hope and of homecomings. We thank the Dutch Government for their generous contribution and congratulate our government partner, the RDB on receiving this support and the role they have played in the ongoing success of Akagera."
The oldest of Rwanda͛s 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.