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Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge Named Among Top 100 Hotels and Resorts in the World

Posted on 02 November 2014 by peter

According to the Cond

According to the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards 2013, Sabyinyo was recognized on the top list of Conde Nast Top Hotels in the world placing the lodge 19th on the Top 100 Hotels & Resorts in the World—in the Conde Nast Readers’ Choice Awards 2014.


The Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge is a luxury lodge that has been built right on the edge of the Volcanoes National Park.


Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge has the rightful incentives as a destination needed to boost tourism in Rwanda in the areas of leisure and adventure.


Rwanda is investing in Infrastructure and other tourism facilities to meet the growing demand for accommodation to secure the sector.


From the deep veranda of any of the eight chalets outfitted in warm hues and African materials, you can see the mist-shrouded hills made famous by the late zoologist Dian Fossey.


On one side are the slopes of Sabyinyo, one of five inactive volcanoes in the park, making this the first high-end lodging in an area that, along with the adjoining parks in Uganda and Congo, is the last refuge of the endangered mountain gorilla.


The property, owned by a community trust and run by Governors’ Camp in Kenya, is a special hybrid of safari lodge and small hotel—with the best elements of both good taste, deluxe bathrooms, attentive staff.


In the ranch-style main building, with its sweeping views, there’s a dining room with a menu that aims for haute.


Fireplaces in both public and private spaces are for those cold, mosquito-less evenings that follow a muddy day in the park, wandering behind your guide to see one of the gorilla troops.


Tourism has been gradually rebounding abreast with emerging ventures that complement the country’s natural riches, including the much-anticipated Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge are what the country needs.


Sabyinyo is also ranked number 4 in top 20 safari lodges and camps in Africa in the very prestigious Conde Nast Readers Choice among others.



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Secrets in the presidential palace at Kanombe

Secrets in the presidential palace at Kanombe

Posted on 30 October 2014 by peter

Secrets in the presidential palace at Kanombe

Some people know former president Juvenal Habyarimana’s residence as from July 5, 1973 to April 6, 1994 and Habyarimana himself as the man behind the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.

Visiting the palace that is located two kilometres from Kigali International Airport, the former presidential palace in Kanombe is tale of opulence, but also a secret cult of African voodoo and self-destruction.

One of the things that many Rwandans don’t know, until they get a guided tour of the palace, is that Habyarimana used to have a sacred voodoo shrine next to the his private chapel.

According to guides, Habyarimana was a staunch catholic but he always turned to the sacred voodoo shrine to get answers to his leadership and future. Many Rwandans at the time only used to hear about it in rumors that their president was voodoo worshipper.

The kind of mindset is seen in one of his greatest possessions, the python- which was believed to be at least 6 metres or more, that had a special pool under a mahogany tree in his compound.

The mystery of Habyarimana’s death may be explained by forensic evidence, but the fact that his plane landed exactly near the pool habiting his pet snake, which many believed possessed his magical powers, is one of the things that will make you wonder if he didn’t fall out of favor with his voodoo practices.

Secrets in the presidential palace at Kanombe

The former president’s living room table supported by pure elephant feet

Like many presidential suits, the palace has an inbuilt armory where it is said Habyarimana kept his arms. But the difference is that the armory was one of the secret rooms in the palace, situated inside the bedroom of his sons, who might not have known about its existence.

The only way to the armory was through a secret door, which could be accessed through the president’s bedroom and incase of any attack he would disappear through the kids room and the enemy wouldn’t even think of it.

The debris for the Falcon 50 presidential plane that went down on 6th April 1994 is also on display at the museum in its original form since the accident.

Apparently the palace has turned into a tourist attraction and a source of historical information and study for Rwandans today.

Youngsters use the palace tennis court and a swimming pool for extra curricula activities and many Rwandans have used the beautiful gardens for wedding events and relaxation.

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Nyabihu: Rwanda’s Gishwati Forest elevated to national park status

Nyabihu: Rwanda’s Gishwati Forest elevated to national park status

Posted on 29 October 2014 by peter

With Rwanda’s keen interest to promote and maintain eco-tourism as one of the pillars of the national economy it was long expected that Gishwati will eventually join the Nyungwe Forest as a new national park, incidentally part of a deal struck between President Kagame and the founder of the Great Ape Trust Ted Townsend some years ago and now become a reality

The law that elevated Gishwati-Mukura into a national park was approved during the cabinet meeting that was held on October 15, led by H.E Paul Kagame.

The law that elevated Gishwati-Mukura into a national park was approved during the cabinet meeting that was held on October 15, led by H.E Paul Kagame.

The creation of a Gishwati Forest National Park has been a long awaited event and serves to underscore constantly voiced sentiments, that a committed and enlightened government can in fact change the future of a country for the better without trampling on its environment, destroying biodiversity and unsustainable exploitation of the natural resources.

Nyabihu district administration is excited about the cabinet approval to elevate Gishwati forest to a national park following its geographical location and tourist attractions.

Angela Mukaminani, vice-mayor for economic affairs in Nyabihu district disclosed that they are happy over the decision to make Gishwati a national park.

Understandably this development has been kept under wraps for a longer time.

“We informed Rwanda Development Board (RDB) about the tourist attractions of Gishwati. Many hills, farmlands and forests that attract the attention of people,” she said.

Nyabihu: Rwanda’s Gishwati Forest elevated to national park status

Gishwati has numerous hills that attract tourists

Nyiraminani added that guest houses and hotels are being set up to accommodate the growing number of tourists, saying it will promote investment and increase the economy of the district and the country at large.

Nyabihu: Rwanda’s Gishwati Forest elevated to national park status

Beautiful terraces made on the agriculture section in Gishwati are eye catching

Before 1994 Tutsi genocide, Gishwati forest had 280 acres per km2 but after the 1994  Tutsi genocide many Rwandan who returned from DRC settled on one part of the forest reducing its size to 7acres per square kilometer.

In a bid to restore Gishwati to its former glory, The Gishwati Area Conservation Program (GACP) began in 2007 with the collaboration of Rwandan president, Paul Kagame, and Great Ape Trust to protect the biodiversity of the Gishwati Forest area and stop some of the rapid degradation.

In the process of protecting the biodiversity of the forest, it was divided into three parts for cultivation, livestock farming and forestry. This resolved the problem of soil erosion that had been caused by the population.

Gishwati makes the biggest part of Nyabihu, Ngororero, Rubavu and Rutsiro district.

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Rwanda leads in world peacekeeping

Posted on 28 October 2014 by peter

Rwanda leads in world peacekeeping

Amb. Yamina Karitanyi

Amb. Yamina Karitanyi, Head of Tourism and Conservation at RDB will represent Rwanda as speaker at this year’s International Institute for Peace Through Tourism (IIPT) World Travel Market event ‘Cultivating Sustainable and Peaceful Communities and Nations through Tourism, Culture and Sports.’

Ambassador Karitanyi will share the lessons learned following years of conflict in Rwanda and the role of tourism, culture and sport in post-conflict reconciliation and socio-economic -development.

This will be an interactive session with questions, comments and insights welcome from the floor.

This session, organized by the International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT) features leaders of the industry who will share their perspectives on the role of tourism in healing wounds conflict, contributing to post-conflict socio-economic re-development and to a “Culture of Peace” at both the community and national levels and across regions of the world.

The session will be a preview of the IIPT World Symposium on Sustainable and Peaceful Communities and Nations being held in South Africa, Februrary16-19, 2015. The Symposium will honor the legacies of three great Champions of Peace and Non-Violence:

Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. and will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the African Union, 20 years of South African Democracy, and the 50th anniversary of Civil Rights Legislation in the United States.

Action oriented ideas for the Symposium will be welcome at the WTM session as well as your nominations of “real life” case studies of Success Stories for presentation a the Symposium.

IIPT Founder and President Louis D’Amore said, “Our intent will be to harness the Symposium and legacies of Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. to build bridges of tourism, friendship and peace in regions throughout the world.”

IIPT is dedicated to fostering and facilitating tourism initiatives that contribute to international understanding and cooperation, an improved quality of environment, the preservation of heritage, poverty reduction, and the resolution of conflict – and through these initiatives, help bring about a more peaceful and sustainable world.

IIPT is dedicated to mobilizing travel and tourism, the world’s largest industry, as the world’s first “Global Peace Industry,” an industry that promotes and supports the belief that “Every traveler is potentially an Ambassador for Peace.”

Other panelists in the event being organized by the International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT) include: Dr. TalebRifai, Secretary General, U.N. World Tourism Organization (UNWTO); Martin Craigs, CEO Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA); HiranCooray, Director, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority and Chairman, Jetwing Hotels Ltd and Mrs. WahidaJaiet, Managing Director of the Tunisian National Tourist Office (TNTO). Professor Geoffrey Lipman, President, International Coalition of Tourism Partners (ICTP) will be the Moderator.



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Kayonza: Akarere karateganya gutangiza ubukerarugendo bushingiye ku muco

Kayonza: Akarere karateganya gutangiza ubukerarugendo bushingiye ku muco

Posted on 27 October 2014 by peter

Kayonza: Akarere karateganya gutangiza ubukerarugendo bushingiye ku muco

Ubuyobozi bw’akarere ka Kayonza ngo buri hafi gutangiza gahunda y’ubukerarugendo bushingiye ku muco, bukazajya bumurikirwamo inka ndetse hakanavugirwamo amazina ya zo. Umuyobozi w’ako karere Mugabo John avuga ko ari bumwe mu buryo bwatekerejweho bwatuma ako karere kinjiza amadovize ava muri ba mukerarugendo baba basuye Parike y’Akagera.

Ubusanzwe ba mukerarugendo basuraga iyo Parike banyuze i Kayonza, ariko ako karera ntikari gafite uburyo bwo kubakurura ngo bagire amadovize bagasigira ku buryo bw’umwihariko. Aha ngo niho havuye igitekerezo cy’umushinga wo gutangiza ubukerarugendo bushingiye ku muco nk’uko umuyobozi wa ko abivuga.

Agira ati “Ubu turi bugufi gukora ikintu cyo kumurika inka no kuvuga amazina ya zo. Ni ikindi kintu tugiye gutangiza cy’ubukerarugendo ariko bushingiye ku muco nyarwanda, tukaba twumva ba mukerarugendo nibaza kureba inyamaswa bazajya babona n’ibindi by’ubukerarugendo ku muco na byo byinjize amafaranga”

Uretse gahunda akarere ka Kayonza gafite yo gutangiza ubukerarugendo bushingiye ku muco, akao karere ngo karanateganya kubaka icumbi ku musozi wa Gisunzu uri hafi ya Parike y’Akagera, ku buryo ngo ba mukerarugendo badafite ubushobozi bwo kurara mu mahoteri ahenze bazajya barara muri iryo cumbi, na byo bikazagira uruhare mu kwinjiriza amafaranga ako karere nk’uko umuyobozi wa ko akomeza abivuga.

Turateganya kubaka hanze ya Parike icumbi ryitwa Eco-Tourism Lodge ku musozi wa Gisunzu ku buryo ba mukerarugendo bamwe bashobora kujya kurara muri parike, ariko abandi badafite ubushobozi bwo kurara mu mahoteri ahenze bakaza kurara muri iryo cumbi”

Iryo cumbi rizaba ryitegeye Parike y’Akagera kandi ubuyobozi bw’akarere ka Kayonza ngo bwamaze kuvugana n’ubuyobozi bwa Parike ku bijyanye no kubaka iryo cumbi rizajya ryinjiriza akarere amafaranga.

Ni kenshi abaturage baturiye Parike y’Akagera bagiye bagirwa inama zo gushaka ibyo bakora byatuma ba mukerarugendo basura Parike y’Akagera babasigira ku madovize, ariko abagerageje kugira ibyo bakora baracyari bake, kandi na byo ugasanga bigarukira ku mirimo y’ubukorikori gusa.

Cyakora mu gihe iyi mishanga y’akarere ka Kayonza yashyirwa mu bikorwa ngo bishobora gukangura bamwe mu bashoramari bakaba bagira ibikorwa bakora byunganira ibisanzwe bihari mu rwego rwo kwinjiza amadovize mu gihugu.

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Rwanda, Uganda partner in tourism development

Posted on 16 October 2014 by peter

In its commitment to promote East Africa as a single Tourism destination, Uganda has partnered with Rwanda to jointly promote two -way tourism traffic; between the two sister-countries.

Speaking during the a tourism training conference at Serena Hotel-Kigali, Louise Mushikiwabo, Rwanadan Minister for Foreign Affairs said the move which was championed by the Uganda.

Tourism Board in partnership with the Rwandan Development Board is purposed to defend both the security and business developments of the two countries.

“People to people relations between Uganda and Rwanda is a very important step to strengthening the tourism sectors of the two economies-both of which come as their country’s biggest revenue earners, contributing over $1b to either country.”

Mushikiwabo said while addressing over 5,000 celebrants including Ugandan fraternity in Rwanda, High Commissioners and friends of Uganda in Rwanda.

According to Stephen Asiimwe, UTB Chief Executive Officer, under the merger, the two countries will have healthy tourism exchanges whenever marketing opportunities such as tourism marts and expos arise in the two countries and the Great Lakes Region in general.

As a result, social-economic problems such unemployment will be effectively addressed because Tourism is the world’s biggest employer, employing at least one of every ten people in its various sub-sectors such as Roads and Transport, Hotel and accommodation among others.

To aid in this realization, Uganda’s High Commissioner to Rwanda, Richard Kabonero said Rwanda will with immediate effect start by stamping out hindrances that have over the years suffocated a healthy business exchange between the two countries such as the border to border bureaucracies.

According to Edwin Muzahura, Head of Marketing UTB, the board’s choice for Rwanda was highly influenced by the fact that no other country in the region feeds Uganda with as much tourists as Rwanda.


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At the helm of the tourism master plan: RDB

Rwanda on course to implementing its tourism master plan

Posted on 07 October 2014 by peter

At the helm of the tourism master plan: RDB

At the helm of the tourism master plan: RDB

Rwanda continues to support the tourism sector which contributes a considerable chunk of the GDP and foreign exchange earnings.

Recently, Rwanda joined the rest of the world in celebrating the World Tourism Day with this year’s theme ‘Tourism and Community Development’.

“This occasion is a chance to reflect on how Rwanda is investing in facilities to meet the growing demand especially for meeting and conferences, the head of tourism and conservation at the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) Amb. Yamina Karitanyi said according to a statement from RDB.

Karitanyi said Rwanda was on course to implementing its national tourism master plan to secure the sector’s contribution to the economy in line with the Vision 2020 which plan involve successfully diversifying the tourism experience beyond gorillas.

“We are making progress with the initiative aimed at meeting the growing demand in tourism in Rwanda and with the soon to be completed Kigali Conference Center which will be the largest in the East and Central Africa this will be met,” Karitanyi said.

Rwanda has continued to invest in convention bureau and other infrastructure and is looking for investors for spa and golf resort hotels at Lake Kivu and a cable car system on the slopes of the volcanoes national park.

The country is looking at starting up a new cultural village to showcase the spectrum of the nation’s heritage in one setting.

Over Rwf1.962billion has been given back to the community to support schools, hospital around the parks, and community owned projects and this is all contributing to the sector’s development.

The country looks at developing the tourism sector making it contribute about 25% annually to GDP and to achieve this RDB will diversify tourism experiences, develop and expand need infrastructure and focus on service delivery and capacity building to enable the sector to continue to grow and thrive.

The targeted marketing strategies will also ensure Rwanda’s growth in tourism is sustained.

With the new introduce single tourist visa, the RDB believes the tourism sector will much grow with the many tourists coming into the country.

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Les Musées du Rwanda menacés de vieillissement  nécessitent une réhabilitation

Posted on 24 September 2014 by peter

m_Les Musées du Rwanda menacés de vieillissement  nécessitent une réhabilitation

Le musée de “chez Kandt” situé au centre-ville de Kigali construit en 1907

La Direction Générale des Musées du Rwanda lance un cri d’alarme aux institutions concernées de venir en aide pour la réhabilitation des Musées du Rwanda qui sont menacés de vieillissement. Ces patrimoines nationaux constituent non seulement une richesse culturelle de toutes les générations  mais aussi une base de données de l’histoire et de la culture du pays ainsi qu’une importante source de revenue. Ces musées nécessitent une plaidoirie pour une protection et une réhabilitation le plutôt possible pour rendre facile leur maintenance et permettre d’attirer plus de visiteurs locaux et étrangers.

Ces préoccupations ont été déclarées par le Directeur Général des Musées du Rwanda,Alphonse Umulisa, devant la commission chargée de la culture au sein du FPR-Inkotanyi lors de la visite des Musées.

Cette délégation du FPR a visité les Musées tels que celui de chez « Richard Kandt », le Musée du Palais Présidentiel de Kanombe, communément appelé « Chez Habyarimana », car c’est l’ancien Président Habyarimana habitait dans ce palais. Cette délégation s’est rendue ensuite à la Bibliothèque Nationale située à Kacyiru.

Après avoir visité  ces musées que certains des commissaires ne connaissaient même pas, Alphonse Umulisa a dit aux commissaires que ces musées ont des problèmes de vieillissement et qu’ils devraient être retapés le plutôt possible car dit-il « ils ont été construits très longtemps et leur maintenance n’a pas été faite comme il faut durant toutes ces années passées ».

m_Les Musées du Rwanda menacés de vieillissement  nécessitent une réhabilitation1

Alphonse  UMULISA exprimant aux commissaires du FPR ses préoccupations sur le vieillissement des musées en faveur d’une éventuelle plaidoirie

« Le musée National de Huye a été construit en1987 et inauguré en 1989. Celui de chez Richard Kandt a été construit en 1907, celui de Rukari à Nyanza en  1931 et celui de  Rwesero en  1959. Vous vous rendez compte de  leur âge ».

Alphonse Umulisa a donné l’exemple du Musée du Palais présidentiel de Kanombe dont la toiture se trouve depuis des années dans un état délabré et sa mauvaise installation électrique qui coûte entre 200 et 400 milles Francs Rwandais chaque  mois pour éclairer le musée.

m_Les Musées du Rwanda menacés de vieillissement  nécessitent une réhabilitation2

Le Musée du Palais présidentiel de Kanombe dont le toit laisse passer l’eau de pluie

Jerome Karangwa, Directeur de Département de recherche dans les Musées du Rwanda, confirme aussi que ces musées sont vieux et qu’ils ont besoin de l’aide suffisante pour la réhabilitation. « La réhabilitation des musées n’est pas une affaire de n’importe qui. Il doit y avoir un expert dans la réhabilitation des musées pour garder l’authenticité de l’histoire ».

Un espoir de plaidoirie pour la réhabilitation de ces Musées

Compte tenu de l’ampleur et de l’urgence des problèmes auprès des commissaires, Sheick Harelimana, Chef de la Commission de la Culture au sein du FPR, a accepté de plaidoyer auprès des institutions ayant la protection des musées dans leurs attributions. Harelimana a profité de l’occasion pour lancer un appel aux Rwandais de s’intéresser et de soutenir les musées en les visitant avant même ils soient visités par les étrangers.

Les Musées génèrent entre 27 et 30millions de Francs Rwandais  par mois

« Il est grand temps de réparer les musées afin d’avoir une autonomie financière dans l’avenir car ces musées génèrent entre  27 et 30 millions Francs Rwandais par mois. Les musées du Rwanda constituent alors un investissement très capital. Mais actuellement ils ont besoin d’un grand capital comme tout autre business afin de ne plus dépendre du budget nationale », souhaite Umulisa.

Le nombre de visiteurs rwandais et étrangers ne cessent d’augmenter comme le montrent les statistiques de 2013-2014. A partir de Juillet 2013 jusqu’Juin 2014, les Rwandais et les étrangers qui ont visité les musées étaient de 185.000 personnes dont 70% étaient des Rwandais.

Actuellement, le Rwanda compte six musées dont le Musée Ethnographique de Huye, au Sud du Rwanda, situé à 135km de Kigali. Le Musée Artistique de Rwesero à Nyanza, est à 85km de la capitale. Le Musée du  Palais Royale de Rukali à Nyanza, au sud du pays, situé à 88km de Kigali. Le musée du Palais présidentiel de Kigali à Kanombe, 15km du centre-ville. Le Musée de l’Histroire Naturelle de Kigali, chez Richard Kandt, au centre-ville et le Musée de l’Environnement de Karongi, à l’Ouest du Rwanda, 130km de Kigali

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Game wardens who received the equipment kit

Volcanoes National Park gets modern tools

Posted on 14 September 2014 by peter

The Congo Basin Ecosystems Conservation (PACEBCO), in partnership with Rwanda Natural Resources Authority donated modern tools worth Rwf118 Million to Rwanda Development Board to enhance capacity in protection of wild animals in the park.

The tools worth Rwf118m were provided by Congo Basin Ecosystems Conservation (PACEBCo), in partnership with Rwanda Natural Resources Authority.

Some of the tools in the equipment given to Volcanoes National Park

Some of the tools in the equipment given to Volcanoes National Park

Among the equipment’s includes 14 generators, 20 binoculars, 50 altimeters, 50 GPSs, 20 digital cameras, 50 compasses, 50 radio call sets, 20 tents, 145 sleeping bags, and 145 rain coats.

PACEBCo regional coordinator, Dr. Bihini Won wa Musiti, said the support was in recognition of their good cooperation with the Rwanda Natural Resources Authority and the existing goodwill in conservation and management of biodiversity.

He said the modern equipment will be used to protect the national park by enabling those involved in conservation to effectively deal with some of the challenges they encounter.

“Along with a multipurpose hall that is yet to be completed in Burera district, PACEBCO is also financing eleven more projects in areas close to the Volcanoes National Park including sponsoring projects in six schools and a health center, and four productive projects all worth $230 000,” said Dr. Bihini Won wa Musiti, the director of PACEBco.

Game wardens who received the equipment kit

Game wardens who received the equipment kit

“Through the partnership, we can achieve a lot. Capacity building which is ongoing is the key to effective management of our natural resources,” he said.

Emmanuel Nkurunziza, the Director General of Rwanda Natural Resources Authority hailed PACEBCo for the support, saying it will help park employees respond in an effective and timely manner.

He urged park wardens and truckers to put the equipment to good use, adding that ‘it is your duty to ensure safety of the materials”.

Park wardens and truckers said the modern kits will help them work professionally and effectively.

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Who killed Rwanda’s lions?

Posted on 04 September 2014 by peter

Giraffe, one of the thousands of animal species you encounter on trip to Akagera National Park

Charlene Jendry, an American conservationist, made a maiden visit to Rwanda in 1990. She toured Akagera National Park, Rwanda’s high-end touristic destination. The mighty lions, the Kings of the Jungle, were the prime tourist attractions.

Jendry traversed through the lions’ den of 300.

She stayed at Gabiro Guest House, a magnificent safari lodge, built right in the middle of the jungle.

Park rangers warned tourists against sitting outside at night because lions would be roaming around.

Watching lions catch a kill is indeed exciting, and for Jendry, the stay at Akagera was a spectacular experience.

Jendry thereafter flew back to USA. She would return to Rwanda five years later; in 1995.

Then, the park had changed, with almost no lions in the park. The big cats’ number had immensely declined, headed to total extinction.

Lions’ sudden disappearance

After the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, thousands of Rwandan refugees returned from exile with extended families. Some were pastoralists. Others were farmers. Land for cultivation and rearing cattle became scarce. Getting a plot was a matter of life or death. Land grabbing was the norm of the day, where only the “haves” would get a plot. The “have not” suffered. The appetite for land mounted. The government intervened, cuting off a huge chunk of Akagera national park and give it out to farmers and herders. The park was reduced from 2500 to 1200 square Kilometers.

More often, wild animals would be hunted and killed. Lions fought back, defending their territories. Lions eventually started attacking cattle. But it wasn’t a walkover. Cattle keepers waged a deadly war. The lions weren’t a pushover either.

It appeared there would be no truce. Herdsmen decided to take a more lethal measure; poisoning the carcasses to kill prides of 9 to 12 lions.

By the year 2000, lions were no more. Completely.

Jes Gruner, the Manager of the Park, says the ecosystem equation could not balance. The national park had shrunk to a third.

Importing the king of the jungle

Tourists would express frustration for not having seen lions. Rwanda considered importing lions from South Africa and breed the big cats back in the park, but the move never materialized.

Kenya would later, earlier this year, endorse giving out 8 lions to Rwanda. But Kenya’s wildlife conservation groups have fiercely opposed the idea, demanding Rwanda to explain the extinction of its lion population.

How to keep’em lions

The Park is being run by African Parks, since 2010. Tourism in the park has increased to 71 since then, from 15259 tourists in 2010 to 260, 92 in 2013.

Camping is another common service on offer in the Akagera National Park

Camping is another common service on offer in the Akagera National Park

The management of the park says it has invested in infrastructure and marketing.

Akagera Park is home to the Ruzizi tented lodge with a honeymoon suit, Akagera Game Lodge and various camping sites; giving tourists a magnificent experience.

The management has already laid ground for receiving the lions.

Akagera Park Manager, Gruner, says once the lions arrive, they will be kept in a boomer for monitoring before they are released into the wild with a GPS tracking collar.

“The park should be able to know the location of every lion all time,” says Gruner.

A study conducted helped to ensure they will survive in Akagera’s savanna terrain.

Tight protection

The extinction of the lions gave buffalos, antelopes, zebras, and other herbivores freedom to move and even graze in farmers’ plantations. Farmers started killing countless animals.

The government intervened in 2010 by installing a 1.8 high electric fence on a 110 kilometer area, worth Rwf2.7bn ($4M). The two former enemies now live peacefully.

The park is protected by professionally trained and equipped Rangers. There are no chances for poachers, says Eugene Mutangana, the Head of Law Enforcement and Deputy Park Manager.

Killing any animal is punishable by a jail sentence of 6 months to two years or a fine between Rwf300, 000 ($500) to Rwf2, 000, 000 ($2,900).

On a serious note though, selling or injuring a gorilla (Rwanda’s prime attractions) or any other endangered species lands one a 5 to 10 year jail term or a fine of Rwf500,000 ($725) to Rwf5,000,000 ($7,600).

Ambassador Yamina Karitanyi heads the tourism and conservation department at the Rwanda Development Board.

She says law enforcement is accompanied by extensive community awareness to ensure co-existence.

The big five

Akagera’s ambition is to accommodate the big five, the buffaloes, leopards, elephants black rhinos and lions. With the presence of lions, only black rhinos will be lacking.

As a two time tourist to Rwanda, Jendry, the founder of Partners in Conservation from Columbus, Ohio, was amazed when she heard of Rwanda’s plan to bring back the lions.

“It will encourage more visitors, and improve the livelihoods of people surrounding the park.”

Spoiling the big cats

Conservationists say the lions will be spoilt for choices of prey. Akagera now boasts of 2500 buffaloes, different types of antelopes, and zebras.

For the park managers, that is an ideal experience of a lifetime for any tourist. As the lion roar, and go out for a kill, activity will increase in the park.

It will become an intense and lively national park, shooting up revenues as big cat lovers flood to Akagera.

Communities excited

Joseph Karama, Community Liaison Manager says the community has been informed about the return of the lions.

“The community played a significant role in wiping out the lions, we have to engage them ahead of the return of the lions,” says Karama.

Thirty six villages have been approached, with more than 7000 villagers attending awareness rallies to learn about lion behavior.

If that’s what it takes for Rwanda to get Africa’s Pride back in its largest National Park, says Jendry, then, “It is a good strategy.”

By Lillian Gahima.

Source : KT PRESS

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