Akagera National Park, Rwanda, is almost unrecognisable today compared to over 20 years ago when it was on the verge of being lost forever. The aftermath of the 1994 genocide had a devastating impact on the environment, making its story of revival even more remarkable. In 2010, African Parks assumed management of Akagera National Park in partnership with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), shifting the park's trajectory from one of oblivion to prosperity and hope.

From the beginning there was a clear joint vision: to transform Akagera from a depleted landscape overrun by more than 30,000 cattle into an income-generating park for the benefit of people and wildlife. Effective law enforcement and strong community engagement was the foundation for rehabilitation. After practically eliminating poaching in just five years, lions were reintroduced in 2015, followed by black rhinos in 2017 and again in 2019 from European zoos. Wildlife numbers have grown from less than 5,000 in 2010 to over 13,000 and counting. Besides being a haven for wildlife, the park began supporting income-generating enterprises for local communities. Today, Akagera National Park continues to provide for the 300,000 people living around its boundaries, directly benefitting from its existence.

As a result of our track record in Akagera and over 10 years of successful collaboration with the RDB, in October 2020, the Government once again entered into a long-term agreement to have African Parks, this time to manage Nyungwe National Park. The Rwandan Government is showing how protected areas, with clear vision and under the right management, can support people and wildlife long into the future.  

Akagera Highlights

  • With the help of our counter-poaching canine unit, African Parks overhauled law enforcement to help secure Akagera National Park and, as a result, not one high-value species has been lost to poaching since 2010.
  • In 2017, 18 eastern black rhinoceros were reintroduced to Akagera, bringing the species back to the park and the country after a 10-year absence. The population was further supplemented by an additional five individuals translocated from European zoos in 2019.
  • Lions were reintroduced in 2015, and with the addition of two males in 2017 to increase genetic diversity, the population has since quadrupled.
  • More than 2,000 schoolchildren visit Akagera National Park each year, along with teachers and local leaders, as part of the environmental education programme.
  • By the close of 2019, Akagera was 90% self-financing, with revenue generated by almost 50,000 tourists, 50% of whom were Rwandan. Even though 2020 saw a 68% reduction in visitors due to COVID-19, Akagera continued to provide for the 300,000 people living on its boundary. 

Partners

In late 2010, African Parks signed a joint management agreement with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) establishing the Akagera Management Company with board members from both the RDB and African Parks jointly managing the park.

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