Rwanda hosts three national parks, each with unique and diverse wildlife. The Nyungwe Forest National Park is a 1,000 square kilometre jungle in the southern part of Rwanda. It hosts thirteen rare primate species including the world’s largest arboreal troop of black/white colobus monkeys. Leopards, golden cats, side-stripped jackals and the African civet among other animals can be found throughout the park. The forest is the largest and most ancient Afro-Montane forest found in East and Central Africa which dates back as far as the last Ice Age.
The Akagera National Park is found near the Tanzania border and houses many favourite African animals. Giraffes, zebras and antelope are common among the savannah grasslands. Elephants and buffalos are also found in the park. There are many swamps and lakes in Akagera and so pods of hippopotami and crocodiles are often spotted at water’s edge. The lake shores of Akagera include some of the densest concentrations of water birds found in the entire African continent, many of which are considered endangered.
Volcanoes National Park is arguably the most famous of the three parks in Rwanda because it is home to the world’s last surviving mountain gorilla population. It was also the first national park in Africa, established in 1925 with the main goal of protecting the gorillas. There are currently eight gorilla groups in the park and gorilla trekking is available all year. The park is one of the most protected areas in the world and recent years have seen rise in gorilla numbers.
However, there are still threats including poaching and habitat loss. The gorillas aren’t often hunted, yet they are injured by traps set for other animals and gorilla hands, heads and feet have been sold on the black market. While mainly known for the gorilla population, Volcanoes National Park also hosts rare golden monkeys, cape buffalo, the black fronted duiker and many bird species.