About Nyungwe National Park

Introduction

Nyungwe is the second national park in Rwanda to fall under our management. Historically, the park’s rich fauna and flora was exposed to rampant poaching, illegal mining and agricultural encroachment, all endangering the survival of its unique biodiversity. However, in 2020, following a successful 10-year partnership with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) that saw the ecological and economic revival of Akagera National Park, African Parks was invited by the government to sign a 20-year agreement to manage Nyungwe National Park. Together, we are working to restore and protect wildlife, engage with the local communities, and implement an effective law enforcement strategy to ensure the long-term ecological, social and economic sustainability of the park.

Biodiversity Restoration

Nyungwe has incredibly high wildlife diversity and endemism, making it a priority for conservation. A quarter of all of Africa’s primates, 13 species, can be found here, including the Eastern chimpanzee and two Albertine Rift endemics, L’Hoest’s monkey (Cercopithecus l’hoesti)and Hamlyn’s monkey (Cercopithecus hamlyni). The Rwenzori colobus has been observed in a single group of more than 400 individuals, the largest ever recorded of any primate on the continent. Nearly 1,100 species of plants have been recorded, of which 240 are trees and about 200 are orchids. This unique landscape has also produced an extreme level of endemism among plants as well as animals, with more endemic species recorded here than any other forest in the region.

Sadly, over the years, unsustainable levels of hunting and historical regional instability have resulted in the probable loss of several key species. Other challenges facing the forest are diverse, from illegal extraction of minerals, fauna, and flora for commercial purposes to the invasion of exotic plants. The high density of people on the periphery of the park increases the risks of incidents of human-wildlife conflict and agricultural encroachment into the park.

mountain view showing the trees in Nyungwe

Under our management, sound conservation, tourism, and other sustainable revenue-generating activities are underway. Over 100 eco-rangers, former poachers, have been engaged and trained, contributing to the removal of 60% of all poachers’ snares from the forest. This in turn improved the livelihoods of their family through their monthly income. As conservation law enforcement and community facilitators, they form a vital link between the community and the park.

Exotic plant species are being cleared from various sites and park-supported nurseries are propagating 36,604 seedlings of indigenous forest tree species, for restoration and indigenous tree proliferation in forestry and agroforestry

Community Involvement

In order to provide local communities with alternative, more sustainable livelihood opportunities, African Parks is exploring various initiatives and determine ways to stimulate local businesses in order to reduce pressure on the park’s ecosystem. For example, a pig farming project and demo apiary have been implemented to serve as model enterprises which can be replicated by others.

Citizens helping with cooperative project .

Education is vital to ensure conservation awareness, so more than 1,500 children from school environmental clubs visit Nyungwe every year. Cases of human-wildlife conflict (HWC) are assessed, and compensation facilitated by the Special Guarantee Fund of Rwanda.

Park Revenue Generation

There is high potential for the sustainable development of tourism to benefit local communities. Nyungwe is part of a national three-park route that aims to see visitors travel through Akagera, Nyungwe, and Volcanoes, and position Rwanda as having one of the most spectacular wildlife experiences on the planet. In Nyungwe, tourism is taking hold with visitor numbers on the rise, creating employment and local enterprise opportunities. Some 21,564 tourists visited Nyungwe in 2022, of which 35% were Rwandan nationals.

With the optimisation of tourism and other sustainable park revenue-generating activities, Nyungwe is set to support healthy terrestrial ecosystems that benefit people long into the future.