Fauna & Flora

Akagera
Lakes, swamps and rolling hills create a park of breath-taking beauty. © Bryan Haveman

Akagera is home to rare and elusive species like the sought-after shoebill and swamp-dwelling Sitatunga. Its extensive network of freshwater lakes and papyrus swamps form the largest protected wetland in central Africa.

How the park got it's name

The park is named after the Akagera River that flows along its eastern boundary and feeds into a labyrinth of lakes, the largest of which is Lake Ihema. The rolling hills of acacia and brachystegia woodland, coupled with scattered grassland and swamp-fringed lakes create a park of breathtaking scenic beauty.

Wildlife

As of May 2017, Akagera became a ‘Big Five’ park with lions, rhino, buffalo, zebra, giraffe, elephant and hundreds of birds species. Wildlife populations are thriving due to effective law enforcement and successful conflict-mitigation with surrounding communities, with poaching at an all time low in the park.

Species

Predators

Until lions were reintroduced in 2015, only leopards and hyenas were found in the park. Smaller predators including serval and side-striped jackal , along with iseveral mongoose and viverrid species, are abundant and doing well in the park.

Primate

Of the primate family, olive baboons and vervet monkeys are common. A far rarer site is the secretive blue monkey, which, until recently, was thought to have become extinct in Akagera.

Herbivores

Elephant, giraffe and hippopotamus are amongst the largest mammals found in the park, joining a number of naturally occurring large plains game species including buffalo, topi, zebra, defassa waterbuck, the secretive roan antelope and the statuesque eland. Smaller herbivores present include duiker, oribi, bohor reedbuck, klipspringer, bushbuck and impala.

Akagera is an important habitat for the endemic red-faced barbet. © Morgan Trimble © Morgan Trimble
Akagera is an important habitat for the endemic red-faced barbet.

Bird Species

Approximately 500 bird species have been document in the park. Akagera is an important ornithological site, with rarities such as the shoebill and papyrus gonolek, which are both restricted to the papyrus swamps, the localised red-faced barbet and the swamp flycatcher.

Threatened Species

Masai giraffe were introduced into the park from Kenya back in 1986, with the current population estimated at 60 individuals, while elephant, which once occurred naturally in the park, were reintroduced in 1975 and now number about 90 individuals. In 2017, 18 Eastern black rhino were translocated to the park.

Wildlife Monitoring

Every two years, an aerial census is conducted in order to monitor wildlife populations. Several elephants have been fitted with GPS collars as part of a long-term monitoring initiative to track ther movements, learn about habitat-use, and to help overall to better protect them. Rangers conduct monthly road counts in order to gain a clearer understanding of animal densities and distributions.

crane
Akagera is the site of a grey crowned crane rehabilitation project. © African Parks

Case Study

Grey Crowned Crane Project

Akagera is the site of a project to rehabilitate populations of grey crowned cranes previously kept as pets in and around Kigali. Managed by the Rwanda Development Board, Akagera National Park, and veterinarian, Olivier Nsengimana, it aims to release previously captive grey crowned cranes back into the wilds of Rwanda, where it is estimated that less than 200 remain. A number of rehabilitated cranes have already been released and are breeding in the park.