Akagera News from July – September 2016

Akagera National Park News Update

Akagera News: July – September 2016
Welcome to the third quarterly Newsletter for 2016. The park is at the peak of dry and dusty right now, we are all anxiously awaiting the rains which will bring a flush of new grass and transform the park from shades of brown to shades of luscious green.
Lion update: Shema and her three cubs are doing well, she is still keeping them out of the way of tourists but rangers and park staff have been monitoring her. The sisters, Kazi and Umwari, with the four cubs are being even more secretive and rangers haven’t been able to get close enough to identify the dynamics of the group. We have a strong suspicion that Amahoro (Shema’s two-year old daughter from a previous litter) has already, or is about to also give birth, judging by her behaviour. But it is likely to be a while before we are able to confirm anything.
Photo by Stuart Slabbard
Ruzizi Tented Lodge is offering a special for the month of November; stay two nights and get the second night half price! This is a not-to-be-missed offer; for just $195 per person sharing, EAC residents can be accommodated in an en-suite tent for two nights with three-course dinners and breakfasts on the deck overlooking Lake Ihema. Contact the lodge for more information.
For information and bookings, please contact the reservations team at ruzizi or phone +250 (0) 787 113 300. Photo by Gael vande Weghe
Karenge Bush Camp will be opening again at the same location overlooking Kilala from December to the end of February, so it’s not too late for those who haven’t made it yet! Karenge is currently closed but the camp was a huge success this June – August season with lots of positive feedback. Early morning game drives from Karenge rewarded visitors with some great sightings over the season; a shoebill to the north of the plain was seen several times over the period of a month and hyenas were seen almost daily, including around 30 early one morning over a buffalo carcass. Contact karenge or phone +250 (0) 787 113 300 for bookings or enquiries.
Kwita Izina is the annual gorilla naming ceremony in Rwanda. This years’ event has just finished and was very successful. We, in Akagera, were involved in the week-long event with the Park manager, Jes Gruner attending the fundraising gala dinner as well as being a panel speaker on wildlife crime at the second annual Conversation on Conservation conference, also attended by Akagera Management Company staff, including rangers and community freelance guides. Joseph Karama, Community Liaison Manager, and Eugene Mutangana, Head of Law Enforcement, are pictured below.
Tourism manager, Sarah Hall, along with guides, Denyse and Godefroid, manned a stand at the first three-day Tourism and Conservation Exhibition, with exhibitors from all over East Africa. The week-long event culminated with the naming ceremony in Kinigi where African Parks CEO, Peter Fearnhead, was given the honour of naming one of 22 baby gorillas born in the past year.
In the law enforcement department we are gearing up ready for rhinos. Eight rangers, including the Head of Law Enforcement, spent a week in Kenya visiting Nakuru, Nairobi National Park and Sera Conservancy, which is part of the Northern Rangelands Trust, with the aim of gaining experience in rhino management in Kenya and better understanding of the needs and security measures for rhinos in a conservation area.
Four rangers have just returned from Zimbabwe following a one-month practical experience and training in rhino tracking.

Back in the park, we have installed a new digital radio network and implemented the law enforcement control room with improved technology for live-feed monitoring of the parks activities.

The community team have traveled to 14 locations in the communities surrounding the park setting up open-air cinemas and showing conservation-related film shows over July and August. The documentaries and films giving information on park activities attracted attendance from a total of 6,850 people.
In addition to the documentary screenings informative radio broadcasts have been aired on a local radio station, Radio Izuba. So far three talk shows were aired on the subjects of the life of leopards, baboons and buffalo. These create an opportunity for people to learn more about wildlife and what we are doing in Akagera to conserve these species.
Photo by Joanita Umwiza
In June, two students from Denver School of Science and Technology, Max and Nathan, returned to Akagera for the second time. This year their visit had the primary goal of delivering a drone they had built themselves and donated to the park, inspired by their first visit, they wanted to use a school project to help the park. With the drone complete, they spent two days working with two members of staff on how to fly the drone and some basics on the construction. Since then the staff have been practicing and collecting some great footage which we hope to be able to use for future tourism marketing of the park. During their visit, Max, Nathan and the rest of the group, along with park manager, Jes Gruner, were honoured to have a chance to visit His Excellency President Paul Kagame and to show him the drone. We hope the drone will have useful applications in producing photos and videos for tourism marketing, as well as possible research and monitoring applications such as aerial census work.
We’ve had some great photographers visit the park recently, Marcus Westberg of Life Through a Lens was here in July and Vysahk Nambiar, a resident in Rwanda and a very keen photographer has visited a few times in the past quarter, capturing some fantastic shots of the lions among other great captures. See more of his work at ifoto. Or check out some of their images on our social media pages on the links below.
Photo by Vysakh Nambiar Ifoto