Since 10 years that the Black Rhinos were last spotted in Rwanda, they have finally returned to the Akagera National Park in unforgettable relocation effort. The Eastern Black Rhinos were last seen within this Savannah National Park in 2007 before they became extinct but now their population has increased to 20 Black rhinos after they were translocated (airlifted) from South Africa in May 2017. This is good news for all tourists who desire to see all the big five animals (Elephants, Rhinos, Buffaloes, Lions and Leopards) while on a safari in Rwanda. There are less than 5000 black Rhinos remaining across their range in the Wild of which only 1000 of them are Eastern black Rhinos hence meaning they are critically endangered species. Therefore the reintroduction of the Rhinos in Rwanda is an urgent, valuable and progressive opportunity for their conservation.
The translocation efforts are the work of African National Parks, a non-profit Conservation Organization that manages National Parks around the African Continent in conjunction with support from the Rwanda Development Board and funding from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, and extra support from the People’s Postcode Lottery as well as the Dutch Government. The Eastern black Rhinos are sub-species of the Rhinoceros and are in critical danger of extinction. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) report in the 1970s, over 50 Black Rhinos loved in the Savannah habitat of Akagera National Park. After several years of struggling to combat Rhino poaching in Rwanda, a commitment was made to the President of Rwanda-Paul Kagame to support the re-introduction of Rhinos into the country because it was guaranteed that Rwanda cannot protect them and interestingly it was finally achieved.
According to the African Parks report, there were over 50 Black Rhinos in the Rwandan National Parks in the 1970s but due to poaching, most of them were decimated (destroyed) from the population with the last sighting being in 2007. Peter Fearnhead-the CEO of African Parks stated that “Rhinos are generally one of the most eminent symbols of Africa but are gravely threatened and are on the decrease in most places across the African Continent due to the tremendously profitable and illegal Rhino Horn trade. Therefore, the return of these Rhinos to the country is a proof to Rwanda’s exceptional commitment to the Conservation and is another big step in the restoration of Akagera National Park’s natural biodiversity.
Akagera National Park is an important Savannah habitat and has always been managed by the African Parks and the Rwandan Development Board from 2010. At the time management was changed, law enforcement within the National Park was improved to reduce poaching in the Park. The main aim was to restore the Park to its former glory-“Big five destination”. Due to this, over 7 lions were introduced to Akagera National Park and their population has more than doubled. To conserve and improve the safety of the translocated Rhinos, a Rhino tracking and protection unit, and a canine anti-poaching unit among others were introduced.
The conservation efforts are not for one party but are integral to supporting the endangered wildlife species as well as support Rwanda’s overall tourism industry, which mostly depends on people from around the world with an interest in the country’s remarkable wildlife species. Interestingly, the rhino project was listed on the Top 10 new travel listings of 2017 by the lonely Planet.
In conclusion, with the re-introduction of the black Rhinos in Akagera National Park of Rwanda, tourists can now fulfill their dreams of encountering the big five animals (elephants, buffaloes, rhinos, lions and leopards) while on safari in the country.