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Big 5 Animals in Rwanda and Best Big Five Safari in Akagera

Did you know that there are Big 5 Animals in Rwanda, and their location is Akagera National Park. Find out what they are and safaris to meet them. The Big Five animal in Rwanda are one of the most iconic wildlife species to spot on a Rwanda safari adventure.

Big 5 Animals in Rwanda
Big 5 Animals in Rwanda

Akagera national park is serving as a living testimony to Rwanda’s commitments of restoring it’s natural heritages. The park on the brink had collapsed due to human encroachments a result of poaching, settlement, logging , among others.

Through the efforts of the government with other conservation organizations like the African Parks Network, the park underwent a remarkable transformation witnessed by an abundant of wildlife it now holds inclusive of the Big 5 animals in Rwanda.

The thriving wildlife species of Akagera national park have firmly placed Rwanda on the map for wildlife enthusiasts in Africa.

Akagera national park offers visitors unparalleled opportunities to sight a variety of animal species inclusive of the iconic Big 5 animals in Rwanda, namely the lions, leopards, elephants, cape Buffaloes and rhinoceroses going about daily activities in their natural habitats.

The Big 5 Animals in Rwanda:


During the 1994 Rwanda genocide, the country was faced with enormous challenges inclusive of the total loss of it’s lion population. The return of the nationals  from their hide outs, encroaching on Akagera national park for settlement, farming, logging, poaching among others  saw the last lions of the park disappearing by the early 2000s.

This marked the beginnings of ecological imbalances of the park, which had been a thriving natural habitat of these apex majestic predators. However in 2015, the Rwanda Development board together with African Parks Network embarked on the bold journey of reintroducing lions to the park.

Lion in Akagera
Lion in Akagera

Seven lions inclusive of five females and two males  were trans-located  from South Africa to the park after a period of 15years with no lions being sighted anywhere on Rwanda land. The reintroduced lions where first kept at Boma enclosure to help them get used to their new habitat by ensuring they are within the park boundaries.

A few weeks later, they got released into the wild of the park to explore, establish and mark their own territories. The lions, as part of the Big 5 animals in Rwanda have underwent successful breeding leading to continuous growth of lion population in the park witnessed by easy and frequent sightings while on game drives throughout the park.

As of recent counts, there is approximately 30 healthy lions present in Akagera national park of Rwanda, Visitors to Akagera National park now have the greatest chances of sighting these giant predators in their natural habitats with ease offering them unforgettable glimpse into the heart of Rwanda’s wilderness.

How to see lions in Akagera National park;

Lions of Akagera are best sighted while on game drives either in the morning hours when they are out from their hideouts to hunt or in the evening hours when they are on their way to their habitats to rest.


In Rwanda, these elusive big cats and Big 5 animals in Rwanda are founds in Akagera National park, which is featured with savanna landscapes, woodlands and wetland making it a very suitable habitat for these animal species. They are also believed to be present in the forested regions of Nyungwe national park though it has not yet been clearly outlined.

Leopards in akagera
Leopards in Akagera

However, though they  are present in the park, their sightings are very rare mainly because of their elusive nature and dense vegetation. Their exact number is unknown but estimated to be between 10-20individuals present in Akagera park and unknown numbers in other regions of Rwanda.

Akagera national park diverse ecosystem ensures a rich, stable food supply including bush kobs, antelopes, warthogs, giraffes, impalas,among others for these elusive wildlife hunters. The park’s mixture of vegetation from the savanna open grasslands, woodlands to dense thick forests offers the perfect hunting ground for leopards.

Best time to view Leopards  in Akagera National  Park.

They are best sighted during the early morning or late afternoon game drives though only seen by lucky safari goers while resting in trees to watch out their kill from scavengers or during very hot days.


Rwanda is a home to one of Africa’s majestic, iconic gentle giants, seen roaming on the savanna plains of Akagera National park captivating the hearts of many tourists to this destination.

Rwanda had a good population of elephants which was spread across its different game reserves but the tragic event of the 1994 genocide claimed many of their lives as a result of habitat destruction by people and uncontrolled poaching causing a drastic decline in their numbers.

Elephant in Akagera
Elephant in Akagera

By the year 2000, only a small population of them had remained and was restricted to Akagera national park. The good conservation practices practiced by the republic of Rwanda has seen population of elephants increasing and now the country holds approximately 100 elephants.

These Big 5 animals in Rwanda are often seen in herds or call it a family group, moving gracefully around the Akagera park in search of food and water.

How to see Elephants in Akagera national park.

Elephants are best seen during guided game drives around the park and via boat cruise on Lake Ihema. This offers visitors to the park uninterrupted up close to these giant creatures  with no disturbance to their natural habitats.

Cape Buffaloes.

Cape buffaloes also know as African buffaloes are sturdy animals found in large herds and in Rwanda, the herds are sighted at the country’s largest game reserve, Akagera national park. The park holds approximately 2,000 buffaloes making them the largest in numbers  of all the Big 5 Animals of Rwanda.

Buffaloes in Rwanda
Buffaloes in Rwanda

Buffaloes are sighted during game drives grazing in open grasslands, at the water bodies cooling off during boat safaris and in shades resting during hot days. Watching big herds of buffaloes moving across the savanna grasslands leaves visitors in awes, the best feelings of a life time.


The giant magnificent creatures which where once declared extinct in wild of the country during the early 2,000s because of their habitat loss to humans and severe poaching particularly from the start of  the tragic event in 1994.

But with the collaborative efforts between the the Rwanda Development board, the non-profit organizations namely Howard G. Buffett Foundation and the African Parks, rhinos where reintroduced to Akagera national park and this completed the Big 5 animals in Rwanda.

In 2017, a herd of 18 black eastern rhinoceros were trans-located  from South Africa  to Akagera national park after a decade of there absence with the last rhino sighted  around 2006. In June 2019, Five black rhinos were trans-located from Czech republic  to Akagera  national park of Rwanda.

Rhinos in Akagera-National Park
Rhinos in Akagera-National Park

This trans-location marked the largest movements of wildlife across continents from Europe to Africa, covering a distance of 3,700 miles. In 2021, this marks the largest trans-location in history. With 30 white rhinoceros being trans-located from South Africa to Akagera park.

Akagera national park is now a home to approximately 20 black rhinoceros and 30 white rhinoceros. These giant species  are best seen during  game drives grazing in the open savanna grassland.

Best Big Five Safari in Akagera:

10 Days Rwanda Safari.

This is an adventure that involves gorilla trekking, birdwatching, cultural encounter and big five game in Rwanda. This Rwanda safari is designed to start on any day and is open to any travel groups with focus on mountain gorillas and big five animals in Rwanda… View Tour



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