African Parks News Updates from Akagera in Rwanda

Akagera News July – October 2019
Picture by © SCOTT RAMSAY
Hello and welcome to our third quarterly newsletter of 2019. The rains are back and Akagera is at its lushest and greenest; flowers are blooming again and there is an abundance of birds and insects. Read on for some of our more recent activities…
The 5th aerial census results are out; since 2010 the biennial census has shown positive results with a significant increase in wildlife populations. This years’ census was conducted in August and was carried out in our own AS350 B3 helicopter, flying transects of the terrestrial areas of the park and along the wetland fringe. The report has shown an increase in overall animal numbers with a total of 13,500 animals recorded, up from 12,000 counted in 2017.
The 2019 aerial census has shown an increase in animal numbers compared to 2017. Photo Credit: Jes Gruner
Zoo rhinos gradually released into wider areas. Two months ago, in a carefully managed process to acclimatize the five zoo rhinos to their new home, they were released from their bomas into their own sections of a one-hectare enclosure. These enclosures included a mud wallow and plenty of natural vegetation to explore as they began to transition to more natural food sources. Earlier in this month, they took another step towards their release into the wild when their enclosures were opened up again into a larger fenced area. Supplementary feeding will reduce as they forage for themselves and a dedicated team of trackers continue to monitor them closely.
Zoo Rhinos have been released into a wide area. Photo Credit: Drew Bantlin
Three Rwandan Rangers receive the Paradise Foundation African Rangers Award. Rwandan Park rangers including Leonidas Mpumuje, Anthony Nzuki and Jean Nepomuscene Musekura are among the 50 park rangers to be recognised in this year’s African Rangers Award, the ceremony was held on November 15, 2019, in Accra, Ghana. Mpumuje is the head of Rhino Monitoring of Akagera National Park where his colleague, Nzuki, is a ranger post leader. Musekura is a ranger in Volcanoes National Park. The African Ranger Awards was initiated in 2017 by Jack Ma, the co-founder and former Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group, through the Paradise Foundation; an environmental conservation organisation. This programme recognises park rangers for their extraordinary contribution towards protecting the continent’s wildlife and conservation areas. The annual event seeks to raise awareness in the world about the need to conserve Africa’s wildlife, emphasising the critical role that front-line rangers play in conservation, and help to stem the current decline in populations of Africa’s wildlife.
Mpumuje Leonidas, Head of the rhino Monitoring team at Akagera National Park
Rhino Velo Race 2019 as it happened. This event took place in Ndego Sector, a community located in the southern tip of Akagera National Park, and was aimed at creating awareness about the park’s conservation activities through sports and entertainment. The race took place on 24th August 2019 and was a great success with 123 local riders and 11 participants from outside the community including Akagera visitors. The top seven riders walked away with prizes that included brand new bicycles, solar lamps, smartphones, and water tanks. The overall winner, Callixte Bihoyiki, received a brand new local bicycle and Visit Rwanda branded Arsenal jersey. This year’s participants included a good number of female participants two of whom were also awarded. Entertainment was provided to the thousands of spectators by well-known Rwandan artist, Bruce Melodie. The rhino Velo Race is among a series of events in the lead up to Kwita Izina, the annual gorilla naming ceremony, which took place on September 6th in Musanze District. The Rhino Velo Race was attended by RDB representatives, Kayonza district officials, Army, and Police representatives who all congratulated the participants and commended their efforts in supporting the conservation of Akagera National Park. See more images of the event here.
123 participants of Rhino Velo Race 2019 in Ndego Sector before setting off.
Women’s football teams join Akagera Lion Cup 2019. The Lion Cup annual football tournament, organised by Akagera’s community liaison department, was started in 2014 prior to the reintroduction of the lions. This year we are celebrating the participation of women’s football teams with nine teams, representing nine sectors bordering the park, joining 16 men’s teams to participate in this year’s tournament. The aim is to create awareness of the importance of environmental protection and conservation of Akagera National Park while also enjoying some entertaining football. Players and spectators hear about the park’s conservation activities and are educated on how to coexist with animals that are still outside the fence, how to report them and how to protect themselves and their livestock. They are encouraged to form cooperatives and submit their economic projects to their sectors which can be supported through the National Revenue Sharing Scheme, a fund created from 10% of the tourism revenue generated in Rwanda’s national parks.
Women football teams participated in Lion cup 2019.
In other news from the community, we have been planting seeds in our community center nursery with the aim of propagating 35,000 new seedlings to plant in the communities around Akagera next season. The tree nursery is made up of 80% of indigenous and 20% fruit trees. Previously the nursery produced over 20,000 seedlings of which 16,000 trees were planted at nine sites; five schools, in two areas along roads, at one model village and near Lake Gishanda. The remaining 4,000 were offered for free to the community around the community center.
That’s all for now, please feel free to get in touch with us if you have any questions or comments. Until next time we look forward to keeping you updated through our social media pages Facebook Friends of Akagera National Park, @AkageraPark on Twitter and @akagerapark Instagram.