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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.
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.
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Akagera National Park. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 24/09/2020.