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Location Rwanda, Kibungo,Umutara
Central coordinates 30o 38.00' East  1o 45.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 100,000 ha
Altitude 1,300 - 1,825m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

Association pour la Conservation de la Nature au Rwanda (Affiliate)

Site description Akagera National Park is located in the north-east of Rwanda, on the Tanzanian and Ugandan borders. It now covers an area of 100,000 ha, following a recent reduction of its original size of 250,000 ha. The excised areas are mainly from the eastern and northern parts of the park’s original limits. The park was contiguous to the north-west with the Mutara Hunting Reserve (34,000 ha), degazetted in 1997. The topography of the park is characterized by rolling sandstone hills in the west, cut in places by deep, narrow valleys. In the east, flood-plains and swamps are predominant. The extensive lakes and swamps of Akagera river valley cover an area of c.100,000 ha. The highest point in the park is Mount Mutumba (1,825 m). The vegetation of the park is extremely varied and, indeed, has been described as the most heterogeneous savanna ecosystem in the region. Open savannas are dominated by three typical grasses, Themeda triandra, Hyparrhenia filipendula and Cymbopogon afronardus. Though Acacia spp. and Combretum spp. predominate, more than 250 tree species occur in the park. The relatively steep hills of central and southern parts support a denser tree- and bush-cover. Towards the lake borders to the east, the savanna becomes more heavily wooded, with gallery forest occurring along lake edges. Gallery forest species include Albizia spp., Acacia polyacantha and some Ficus spp. Flood-plain and marsh vegetation occur in the river valley, with marshes dominated by Cyperus papyrus, Cladium and Miscanthidium.

Key Biodiversity See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. At least 525 species are known from the park, reflecting the extremely wide diversity of habitat. These include 44 species of raptor, Balaeniceps rex and many Palearctic migrants, amongst which Falco naumanni, Gallinago media and Glareola nordmanni have been recorded. The park represents the northern limit of distribution of a number of Zambezian biome (A10) species, including Lanius souzae, Myrmecocichla arnotti and Cisticola angusticauda. In addition, one species of the Guinea–Congo Forests biome (A05) and seven of the Afrotropical Highlands biome (A07) also occur (see Table 3). However, all these data need to be reviewed in the light of the recent reduction in size of the park, which means that some species are no longer likely to occur within it, e.g. species of gallery forests (e.g. Camaroptera chloronota, Cossypha cyanocampter) and montane forests (e.g. Illadopsis pyrrhoptera, Cisticola chubbi).

Non-bird biodiversity: More than 50 species of mammal are known from the park, including Lycaon pictus (EN), now thought to be locally extinct. Diceros bicornis (CR) and Loxodonta africana (EN) were introduced to the park in 1958 and 1975 respectively.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Ring-necked Francolin Scleroptila streptophora resident  1998  present  A3  Near Threatened 
Madagascar Pond-heron Ardeola idae winter  present  A1  Endangered 
Shoebill Balaeniceps rex resident  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus winter  present  A1  Near Threatened 
Papyrus Gonolek Laniarius mufumbiri resident  1998  present  A1, A3  Near Threatened 
Carruthers's Cisticola Cisticola carruthersi resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-winged Scrub-warbler Bradypterus carpalis resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Sharpe's Pied-babbler Turdoides sharpei resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Red-chested Sunbird Nectarinia erythrocerca resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Northern Brown-throated Weaver Ploceus castanops resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-collared Oliveback Nesocharis ansorgei resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Red-faced Barbet Lybius rubrifacies resident  1998  present  A1, A2, A3  Near Threatened 

IBA Monitoring

2013 medium not assessed medium

Human intrusions and disturbance war, civil unrest and military exercises happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - unspecified species happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium

Whole area of site (>90%) covered by appropriate conservation designation  A comprehensive and appropriate management plan exists that aims to maintain or improve the populations of qualifying bird species  Some limited conservation initiatives are in place  medium 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Akagera National Park 90,000 protected area contained by site 90,000  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial   48%
Wetlands (inland)   18%
Shrubland   17%
Grassland   14%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
nature conservation and research -

References Dzwonko and Kornas (1994), Kanyamibwa (1998), Vande weghe (1981, 1990).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Akagera National Park. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016

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