After ten years, Rwanda has re-introduced black rhinos in Akagera, making the park complete with the Big five. Akagera National Park is one of Rwanda’s 3 national parks. It is a savannah park and the oldest of all as well the home to the largest wetland gazette in the entire central Africa. It is a home to more than 8000 different large mammals including a herd of over 90 elephants. There are also over 500 different bird species. In the 1960’s and 70’s, Akagera national park had a population of over 50 black rhinos. However the in the 1980’s the rate at which poachers hunted down rhinos increased leading to their decline. The last rhino was killed in 2007, which forced the conservation and tourism bodies through Rwanda Development Board (RDB) to consider reintroducing rhinos in the park.
This has been the plan for quite some time and RDB together with African parks which manages Akagera national park have managed to achieve this target with the help of the Dutch government that offered Euro 200,000. The entire project was estimated to cost a little more than £1 million. In additional to the Dutch government’s financial and the People’s Postcode Lottery contribution.
The plan was to reintroduce about 10 or 20 rhinos which would include 7 or 15 females and then about 3 or 5 males depending on the total reintroduced. On Tuesday, 10 Eastern black rhinos weighing more than 2 tones each arrived from South Africa before dawn. We expect to receive another bunch of 10 more black rhinos in akagera. With 20 rhinos in the park, it is more likely that there will be population growth. They will thrive and reproduce. This will make Akagera act as a source from where rhinos are got to restock other national parks across East Africa.
RDB is very hopeful that this reintroduction will have a very positive impact on this park. Thereby increasing the number of visitors. Just as the case was when the lions were reintroduced sometime back. Other goals for this project include the restoration and development as well as proper management of this park as an efficiently operational savannah ecosystem. Biodiversity rehabilitation and other conservation programs will be the basic activities needed to make Akagera operational.
It is important to note that for all these programs to be successful Akagera needs to be financially self-sustaining. Rather than depending on organizations like African Parks. African parks has other 10 parks in the 7 different nations across African to manage. African parks manages parks from Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, in Rwanda and in Malawi.
The reintroduction project is just as important as any other wildlife conservation strategy. This is a great sign of progress in the country’s conservation efforts. With less than 5,000 black rhinos only left in the world, and 1,000 Eastern black rhinos, Akagera is lucky to own 20 of them. The reintroduction of rhinos in Akagera park has come 2 years after the re-introduction of lions in the year 2015.
According to the park managers, the number of lions have already more than doubled. This is good news so hopefully this will be the same with the rhinos. The following two weeks, rhinos will be settled into Akagera national park. Rwanda will then become a one stop country with all the most sought after animals. This includes the big five and the mountain gorillas.