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Rwanda's Akagera National Park prepares for the return of the rhinos
Akagera National Park in Rwanda, was in the news two years ago when a lion relocation from South Africa brought these predators back. Seven lions were released at the time and according to reports have the numbers since then grown to around 15. Initially opposed by Kenyan 'conservationists', clearly individuals with their own agenda set to deny Rwanda to go through with a similar deal to bring in lions from Kenya, have all their objections been proved to be baseless as the secure boundary fence has kept the predators inside the park while keeping livestock outside the park.
African Parks, which manages Akagera in partnership with the Rwanda Development Board's tourism and conservation department, is now advancing the re-introduction of the Eastern Black rhinos but has wisely opted to again source the animals from South Africa to avoid a similar experience as seen with the lions.
Information from Rwanda suggests that some 20 rhinos will be brought from a private game reserve in South Africa and that the holding bomas for the animals at Akagera are now complete, ready to receive their first 'guests'. While the park management itself has been cautious to give a timeline are local tourism stakeholders almost certain that by April or May this year the relocation will have taken place, restoring the big five to Rwanda after a gap of over 30 years when the last rhinos were poached out of existence.
Bringing back rhinos to Akagera, a park of over 1.100 square kilometres in size, will further increase the popularity of the park, which has become a magnet for in particular Rwandan travelers after roads were upgraded and additional tourist camps put up inside the park with special rates for Rwandans and residents.