#Akagera National Park News Updates



(Posted 07th October 2017)

The most exciting news from Akagera is the birth of a new black rhino calf to Ineza, one of the females brought into the park from South Africa earlier in the year. This is the first rhino born in Rwanda in decades after the indigenous population had been poached out of existence in the 1980’s!
The news of this birth is reason to celebrate, coming only a few months after the arrival of the breeding population of 18 eastern black rhinos in May this year.

First photos of new rhino calf in Akagera National Park, Rwanda

Meanwhile have visitor numbers grown as has the park income generated by gate receipts after in July nearly 5.000 visitors came to the park.

Panel for discussion of the Business of Conservation; Jorrit Kooi, co-founder of Safarishare, Kaddu Kiwe Sebunya, President of AWF, Michaela Guzy founder and chief content creator of Oh The People You Meet, José Pliya, Director, of the National Agency for the Promotion of Heritage and Development of Tourism of Benin with Akagera park manager, Jes Gruner

It was also reported that three of the parks’ top rangers were back in Malawi recently to continue the final stage of the tracking training course. Augustin Manirarora, Anthony Nzuki and Leonidas Mpumuje had previously completed both the basic and intermediate levels. The advanced tracking course, also held in Liwonde National Park, Malawi, was aimed at reinforcing the skills learned so far, and teaching tactical command of tracking operations, as well as how to deliver basic tracking training to their teams back in Akagera. Select graduates will be invited to help instruct on further training, and then qualify as Tracking Instructors.
Another two park rangers went to Kenya for Advanced Analytical Training, delivered by the British Peace Support Team in East Africa in conjunction with the Kenya Wildlife Services, with the aim of receiving intelligence training assistance to combat the illegal wildlife trade, a known funding stream of illegally armed groups.

Graduating from the advanced tracking course in Liwonde, Malawi

In August was the park’s Community Manager, Joseph Karama, invited to visit the Northern Kenyan Community Conservancies supported by the Northern Rangeland Trust (NRT) to learn more about alternative models for community engagement and how the local populations living in and around protected areas can benefit through conservation. Joseph is looking forward to implementing some of the ideas coming out of his visit as the park heads into a phase where we are looking to scale-up the community engagement with real, measurable results and create greater impact in the community. The community engagement team in Akagera are currently working on growing existing community businesses and supporting the development of new ones with an emphasis on honey production and handicrafts as well as new ventures into fish farming. Recently a partnership was started with the US Embassy’s Small Grant Scheme to kick start a fisheries project near the park that we hope will grow into a large community business employing people and supplying fish at community-friendly prices. The team are also involved in piloting a project to support local farmers to construct bomas in which to keep their livestock in at night in order to reduce human-wildlife conflict. And they are working on influencing a review of the National Revenue Sharing scheme to implement a reform which will bring more accountability and benefits to the communities.

Recently a partnership was started with the US Embassy’s Small Grant Scheme to kick start a fisheries project near the park

Meanwhile was an aerial census of the park’s game population carried out in Augustfollowing previous counts in 2010, 2013 and 2015. The census was carried out Akagera’s own AS350 B3 helicopter and covered the usual ground count and lake fringes as well as the papyrus swamps and wetlands, thanks to some additional funding from Wilderness Safaris. Figures are not yet finalized however the sitatunga count was promising with almost 50 animals counted, and likely to be many more due to the difficulty of counting in the tall papyrus vegetation. Several leopards were seen and three shoebill were counted. We will keep you posted on further results as the report is finalized.

AS350 B3 Helicopter used for aerial census