Akagera National Park is positioned in the north east of Rwanda overlooking the plains of Tanzania. It extends over a geographical spread of 1122 km2 and under a public private partnership arrangement of African Parks and Rwanda Development Board since 2010.
The park is named after the River Akagera which is one of the sources of the Nile River which is the longest in the world. The River feeds in the chain of lakes that mark the floor of the Akagera plains including Lake Ihema which is the second largest in the whole of Rwanda.
The impressive undulating hills of acacia and Brachystegia Woodland that is intercepted by scattered grassland and the swamp fringed lakes creating a remarkable scenic views. The Akagera National Park is noted to be the largest national park in Rwanda and most of all, the only savannah park thus acting as a congregation for all savannah dwelling species. As Rwanda is known as the land of a thousand hills, the Akagera has also had a share of this. The park shelters the Mutumba Hills that tower to 2,000m above sea level offering the impressive sights of the river, lakes and swamps below.
Gazetted in the year in 1934, the Akagera National Park has passed through the thick and thin. The park was reduced in size to accommodate the Rwandan nationals that returned after the civil war. As a result, about 2,500km2 of land was degazetted to make Akagera stand at its current size.
The Akagera National Park boasts of remarkable bio-diversity levels which could be as a result of the varied vegetation zones. The extended freshwater systems coupled with papyrus swamps present one of the biggest protected wetland in the Central of Africa. A range of species have been introduced to Akagera National Park including the Masaai Giraffe that was secured from Kenya in the year 1986 and the current population of these Giraffes stands at 60.
A count of five (5) black female Rhinos and two (2) male were introduced to the park in the year 1958 and 1959. However, due to wide scale poaching in 1980s, the species faced extinction though their numbers had increased to 50 in the 1970s. The elephants formerly existed in the park but faced extinction around 1961. The elephants were then trans-located from Bugesera as the population in the area there was increasing steadily thus taking over the elephant habitat. However, by that time, the knowledge of elephant translocation was still limited and as a result counts of 26 young elephants were trans-located while the mature ones had to be eliminated. At the moment, there are ninety (90) estimated to be thriving in Akagera National Park. Towards the end of June 2015, a count of seven (7) lions was re-introduced to the park following fifteen (15) years of disappearance. It was a donation from South Africa.