The national parks of Rwanda are protected ecosystems and wildlife reserves located within the borders of Rwanda in east-central Africa. In 2012, these protected natural zones include the Volcanoes National Park, Akagera National Park and Nyungwe Forest. Maintenance of the national park system, as well as tourism infrastructure and promotion of the parks, is managed by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) with assistance from government ministries.
Tourists en route to Volcanoes National Park in Musanze District. With world tourism projected to grow further, experts in the country are encouraging product development and diversification that will not only attract tourists but also make them stay longer in the country, to further boost the country’s highest foreign exchange earner. The New Times/ File.
Each park protects a distinct ecosystem and variety of species. Bordering Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, into which the Virungas volcanic mountain chain extends, Volcanoes National Park is the most heavily patrolled park in the world and the oldest in Africa. In combination with adjoining parks in the neighboring countries, it serves as the world’s only habitat of the mountain gorillas, whose numbers have been increasing here over the past decade. Visitor numbers to the gorillas are strictly limited and passes must be purchased, often well in advance, from RDB. Golden monkeys also inhabit a separate portion of the park.
To the southeast along the Burundian border, Nyungwe National Park hosts a large number of chimpanzees and a variety of other primate species in a highland rainforest environment.
The eastern border of Rwanda, along with Lake Victoria and Tanzania, is the location of Akagera National Park and protects a variety of African fauna in a savannah ecosystem, including giraffes, elephants, buffalo, baboons, gazelles, and zebra. Lions originally inhabited the park but were exterminated by poisoning during and after the genocide. The park is currently being fenced in to allow the reintroduction of lions to be imported from South Africa in 2014.