20 eastern black rhinos have been translocated to Akagera National Park in Rwanda from South Africa. African Parks, in collaboration with the Rwanda Development Board and with funding provided by the Howard G Buffett Foundation, carried out the translocation.
African Parks, in partnership with the Rwanda Development Board, took over the management of the park in 2010. Seven lions were successfully reintroduced in 2015; their population has since more than doubled. The park’s original lions were decimated in the years after Rwanda’s 1994 genocide as Rwandans who had fled the slaughter returned and occupied the park, killing the lions to protect their livestock.
Back in the 1970s, more than 50 black rhinos thrived in the savannah habitat of the Akagera park but their numbers declined due to wide-scale poaching and the last confirmed sighting was in 2007. According to the conservationists, there are fewer than 5000 black rhinos in the wild worldwide, with only about 1000 of the eastern sub-species left. Since 2010 African, Parks has boosted security at Akagera; measures taken include deploying a helicopter for air surveillance and an expert rhino tracking and protection team as well as a canine anti-poaching unit.
With the reintroduction of the rhinos, Akagera, which welcomed more than 36,000 visitors last year, can now boast of being home to Africa’s “big five” – rhino, lion, elephant, leopard and Cape buffalo.