Communities living around the Akagera National park will no longer have to worry about their security with aggressive and stray animals that have for years attacked and injured residents and damaged property.
The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) on Thursday inaugurated a 110 km electrical fence at Akagera national park to curb human-wildlife conflict. The event was officiated by the Minister of Internal Security Musa Fazil Harelimana, in Nyamwashama village, Mwiri Sector in Kayonza District.
The fence comes as a solution to security of both people living in the vicinity of the park, as animals like buffaloes and elephants sometimes destroyed crops or even killed people since there was nothing to keep them in the park. At the same time, the fence will also prevent poachers from entering the park.
Rica Rwigamba, the head of tourism and conservation at RDB, says that the fence will also reduce claims of damage by both the park management and the local community. She also indicated that the fence will allow RDB to bring more animals to the park such as lions, which before would constitute a threat to the people. “That will attract more tourists to Akagera,” she added.
The construction of the fence started in 2011, cost Rwf2 billion and offered employment to over 3400 people surrounding the park. The fence is powered by solar energy and has been constructed by TNH-EME, with a durability of the fence is forty years.
Minister Harelimana indicating that people need to maintain its safety and protect the park and its wildlife as well as protecting themselves from approaching the fence as it is electrified.
Residents welcomed the new nitiative and stated that there will now be a sense of security that has in the past been lacking.
Obed Mbarushimana from Rwimbogo sector, Gatsibo district stated that he has experienced three deaths caused by buffaloes and that crops were always eaten by these animals. Yet, since the fence has been erected, he said, both cops and people are safe.
While Alphonsine Kampire, of Rwinkwavu sector in Kayonza district also indicated that park animals, especially the elephants, buffaloes and hippopotamus have been a threat to their produce. “I cultivated two hectares of sorghum but did not get anything out of it. Elephants came and destroyed everything but now I think I shall harvest this season thanks to the fence.”
In 2012, Akagera national park has received 41% of all tourists in Rwandan parks. It covers 1085km2, and is managed by Akagera Management Company (AMC) and covers at least four districts (Kayonza, Gatsibo, Nyagatare and Rwamagana) in the Eastern Province. In 2009, RDB and the African Parks Network entered into a 20-year agreement for the joint management of the park.