Rwanda National Parks and Tourist Attractions

rwanda nature

Rwanda today has three main conservation areas: the Volcanoes National Park, Akagera National Park and Nyungwe forest. Each of these protects a very different ecosystem and combination of large mammals, for which reason greater detail on the fauna of each reserve is given under the appropriate regional section. Broadly speaking, however Akagera supports a typical savanna fauna dominated by a variety of antelope, other grazers such as zebra, buffalo and giraffe, the aquatic hippopotamus and plains predators such as lion, leopard and spotted hyena.

Nyungwe Forest and Volcanoes Park probably supported a similar range of large mammals 500 years ago. Today however the faunas defer, mostly as a result of extensive deforestation on the lower slopes of the Virungas. The volcanoes today support bamboo specialist such as golden monkey and mountain gorilla, as well as relic populations of habitat – tolerant species such as buffalo and elephant. There are three national parks in Rwanda. Nyungwe, Akagera, and Volcanoes National Parks.

Nyungwe Forest National Park:
Nyungwe is a true rain forest, typically receiving in excess of 2, 000 mm of precipitation annuary. It is also one of the oldest forests in Africa, which is one of the reason it boasts such a high level of diversity. Scientific opinion is that Nyungwe, along with other forests of the Albertine Rift, was largely unaffected by the drying up of the lowland areas during the last ice age, and thus become a refuge for forest plants and animals which have subsequently recolonised areas such as the Congo Basin.

Akagera National Park
Named after the river which runs along its eastern boundary, Akagera National Park is Rwanda’s answer to the famous Savanna reserves of Kenya, Tanzania and the like. In contrast to the rest of the country, the area is relatively warm and low-lying, and its undulating plains support a cover of dense, broad-leafed woodland interspersed with lighter acacia woodland and patches of rolling grassland studded evocatively with stands of the superficially cactus-like Euphorbia candelabra shrub.

Volcanoes National Park:
This 160km² national park protects the Rwandan sector of the Virunga Mountains, range of six extinct and three active volcanoes which straddles the borders with Uganda and the DRC. The Volcanoes Park is part of a contiguous 433km² Trans frontier conservation unit that also includes the Virungas National Park and Mgahinga National Park, which protects the DRC and Ugandan sectors of the Virungas respectively.

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