The number of large animals now roaming the Akagera National Park in eastern Rwanda has risen by 53.9 percent – a significant growth.
African Parks, the continental management firm which has been managing the park says latest aerial census of mammals and other key species in the park, was done August 2-6 this year.
12,152 large mammals were counted across the terrestrial and wetland fringe zones. Notably, 133 elephants were counted- approximately 20% increase in population from the 2019 Aerial Census.
Buffalo also increased to nearly 4000 animals. 40 grey crowned cranes were also counted during the wetland fringe component of the survey.
Compared to eight years in August 2013, the census then recorded recorded 7 892 large mammals in Akagera National Park.
The census at the time involved a detailed count of 11 mammal species including elephant, buffalo, eland, hippopotamus, giraffe, roan, warthog, zebra, waterbuck, impala and topi in Akagera.
The census confirmed the presence of 2,093 buffalo, 1,057 impalas, 999 zebras, 948 waterbucks and also secured the park’s reputation as a haven for hippo with 885 of the species having been sighted.
Since then, the numbers have shot up exponentially. The Akagera Management Company has been conducting aerial census every second year in order to monitor population trends.
As the animal population grows, so have been the visitors too.
Data released in January showed Akagera National Park received more than 49,000 visitors and generated $2.5 million in park revenue in 2019, a 25 per cent increase compared to 2018.
The park’s management said that the revenues generated in 2019 account for about 90 per cent of its annual budget.
For past nearly two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has frozen international tourism. Industry projection suggest to could resume fully as early as January next year with large portion of world population immunised.