Rwanda officially joins the list of African countries with the big five game animals following the recent addition of 10 rhinos to Akagera National Park with 10 more expected in the country in the next one or two weeks.
The rhinos arrived at Kigali International Airport on Tuesday morning from South Africa on Tuesday morning at around 3:30am (EAT) aboard an Etihad Airways Cargo plane.
The rhinos were offloaded under the prompt supervision of a team of veterinary doctors and loaded onto respective trucks as they made their journey to Akagera National Park.
The chief tourism officer (CTO) of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), Belise Kariza, South Africa’s Ambassador to Rwanda, George Twala and Akagera National Park Manager, Jes Gruner we among the people who were at hand to receive the rhinos.
This major development in Rwanda’s tourism industry was partially pushed by African Parks, an African non-profit organization that manages national parks on the government’s behalf, the Rwanda Development Board and the Howard G. Buffett Foundation (main source of the fund).
Notably, rhinos were last spotted in Rwanda about 10 years ago but we on the verge of phasing out. In the 1970s, reports claimed Akagera National Park had approximately 50 black rhinos but suddenly declined at a very high pace due to regular poaching.
The last exact sighting of rhinos in Rwanda was in 2007.
Before receiving the 10 beasts, Akagera National Park – a Savannah protected habitat had since undergone major transformation since African Parks took over its management in 2010.
Among the efforts for the transformation was the establishment of rhino tracking protection team, an anti-poaching unit and the deployment of a helicopter for regular air surveillance. All these efforts are aimed at conserving the rhinos and keeping them away from poaching.
Rwanda Development Board’s chief executive officer, Clare Akamanzi says the animals will definitely go a very long way in boosting the Rwanda tourism industry.
Several wildlife experts have come out to say that the return of rhinos is a true testimony to the country’s endless progress in conservation efforts. Peter Fearnhead, the chief executive officer of African Parks claims the existence of Rhinos has greatly been threatened by the illegal rhino horn trade in Asia despite the species being a huge symbol of the continent.
Chairman and CEO of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, Howard G. Buffett referred to the development a huge another milestone in Rwanda’s conservation, and eco-tourism efforts.
With less than 5,000 black rhino left globally, it is claimed that there are only about 1,000 Eastern black rhino left apparently. The return of Rhinos in Rwanda’s Akagera National Park comes after the re-introduction of lions in 2015. The Rwanda lion conservation efforts has also shown great success over the few years with the population of big cats already doubled and besides, the park has 15 lions at the moment.