What Joy can surpass the one of welcoming a baby after almost a Decade? This excitement is what tourism stakeholders (tourists, tour operators and the Government) felt after receiving the news of a healthy Rhino calf being born within Akagera National Park. The good news, announced on World Rhino Day celebrated on 22nd September 2017 comes barely four months after 18 Eastern Black Rhinos were airlifted from South Africa to Rwanda’s only savannah National Park.

A number of Eastern Black Rhinoceros were translocated from South Africa into Akagera National Park by a team from African Parks in partnership with the Howard G. Buffett Foundation (HGBF) and Rwanda Development Board (RDB) after they were last seen in the country in 2007. The additional effort of Akagera Management Company, the Dutch Government and the People’s Postcode Lottery also made this project a total success.

Ineza, one of the female Rhinos was translocated from South Africa with an older male Calf and has given birth to another healthy baby thereby increasing their number to 19. This Calf was first sighted by the Rhino monitoring team in August but it is in late September that photographic evidence was shown. Through protection and management by Akagera National Park together with the collaboration of local communities, the increase in the important population of Rhinos is guaranteed and safeguarded.

In the 1970s, Akagera National Park was a haven to over 50 Black Rhinoceros living under too much pressure due to poaching until they eventually became extinct with the last one sighted a decade ago. While the torment of poaching for the precious Rhino Horn is persistent to decimate their numbers across the African Continent with less than 5000 black rhinos and 1000 eastern black Rhinos left, the birth of the Rhino in Rwanda after a decade is a celebration of Hope for these exceptional mammals.

According to Jes Gruner the Manager Akagera National Park,  the birth of the first Wild Rhino after a decade is an overwhelming and most exciting moment for the land of a thousand Hills and its people and is an indication of the country’s commitment to the Conservation of these endangered wildlife species. The animals in Akagera National Park are thriving well, whereby the population of lions has tremendously increased from the time 7 lions were reintroduced in 2015 after over 15 years of extinction.

The collaboration of the other participating partners as well as Rwanda Development Board in the restoration of the Akagera National Park over the past 6 years has made reintroducing of Eastern black Rhinos, one of the most outstanding sub-species on Earth possible in Rwanda hence making the country an ideal Big 5 destination.

Akagera National Park is situated in North-eastern Rwanda and covers an area of 1122 square kilometers. Besides Rhinos and Lions, other wildlife species call this savannah Park home and these include Antelopes like sitatunga, Bohor reedbucks, Oribis, common elands, waterbucks, Topis, common duikers and Impalas among others. Others include spotted hyenas, Hippos, Serval cats, Rothschild giraffes, Nile crocodiles, Burchell’s zebras, Buffaloes, Leopards, Elephants, primates such as Olive baboons, vervet monkeys and blue monkeys, to mention but a few.

There are also over 500 species of birds found in this Park thus making it a number one bird watcher’s paradise in Rwanda. Notable species to look out for include the long-chested eagles, African jacana, heuglin’s robin-chat, Goliath Herons, crested barbet, the African grey hornbill, white-browed Coucal, African fish eagles, Hammerkop, African Darter, Grey-crowned cranes, Palm-nut vulture, Lilac-breasted Roller, Pin-tailed Whydah, African wattled lapwing, saddle-billed stork, Bare-faced go-away bird and Ross’ turaco among others.

In conclusion, with the birth of the first wild Rhino after a decade brings the number of these endangered species to 19 hence a celebration of Hope for this remarkable country. The announcement was made on 22nd September 2017, which was World Rhino Day and comes hardly four months after a number of Eastern black Rhinos were airlifted from South Africa to Rwanda’s Akagera National Park.

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