Birding in Rwanda
Rwanda is located within the Albertine Rift as well as dense forests and mountains which creates a unique and remarkable beautiful environment for the tourists to enjoy. Rwanda is birding destination with over 700 species and it has the highest number of Albertine Rift endemics in Africa. The country has got seven birding Areas which include national parks like Akagera, Nyungwe as well as Volcanoes national park. The other areas include; Rugezi swamp, Akanyaru, Cyamudongo as well as Nyabarongo area. The famous Shoebill stork is mainly found in Akagera national park as well as in wetlands of this beautiful country.
Akagera only supports many acacia and papyrus species including; White-headed, Tabora Cisticolas, Bennett’s Woodpecker, Papyrus Gonolek, Red-faced Barbet, Carruther’s and White-winged and Broad-tailed Warblers, Papyrus Gonolek, Miombo Wren-Warblers as well as the Black and familiar Chats, etc. Those interested in birding and staying at Akagera national park, there are many lodges including Akagera game lodge and many campsites which can be used by the tourists interested in Birding. On top of the many bird species found in Akarega as the best birding destination of Rwanda, you can encounter many other animal species including the Hippos, elephants, giraffes, kobs, lions, Rhinos and many more.
In the southwest of the country, you find Nyungwe National park, which is a virgin forest and the largest natural forest remaining in Africa and is home to over 300 species of birds, which of 27 of these species are regional endemics. This forest has got steep hills and deep valleys which makes the forest hard to be explored. There has been a new road which was constructed that bisects the park and has made it easy for the tourists to access the park. The park has got many bird species including the Rwenzori Batis, Grauer’s Rush, Mountain Sooty Boubou, Rwenzori Turaco, Rwenzori Hill Babbler, and many more.
Rwanda has got many birding spots which are visited by bird watchers and some of these are explained below.
This one is located in a valley in the north of Rwanda, east to Lake Burera along Uganda boarder. Its vegetation is mainly dominated by Miscanthidum Violaceum around the fringes and a place of papyrus near the point of the out flow. The average rainfall received here is estimated to be 1,200mm. This place has got only three species of birds including; the lesser swamp warbler, Papyrus Gonolex, and the Grauer’s Rush Warbler. The area has also got 1 species of afro tropical biome, 6 of 11 species of Lake Victoria basin biome, 1 of the 25 species of the Albertine Rift Mountains which are endemic to the area. These species of birds have been recorded at Rugezi Marsh.
This national park is located in the north west of Rwanda along the border of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The park is contiguous with Mgahinga Gorillas National Park as well as Virunga National Park. It was gazatted in 1925 as a small area surrounded by Mikeno Karisimbi, and Visoke, the intention was to protect mountain gorillas from the poachers. This was the first national park to be created in Africa and contains eight Pleistocene volcanic peaks which form part of the water shed between the Congo River systems as well as the Nile.
The vegetation here varies with altitude and the park is mostly covered with bamboo and some parts are occupied by montane bogs. The other vegetation found in this park include; bush land, subalpine, thicket, Afro alpine vegetation of both Thicket grassland and Heath. This park is well known for mountain gorillas as well as the popular primatologist who cared for the mountain gorillas, Dian Foseey and set up Karisoke Research Centre, she was later murdered by poachers in 1985, and however her work is still carried on by Rwanda Development Board.
This park also has a rich avifauna with a total of 178 bird species with 13 species and 16 sub species endemic to Ruwenzori and Virunga Mountains. There are three globally threatened species namely; African Green Broadbill, Lagden’s Bush shrike, and the Kivu ground Thrush. 17 of the 25 albertine rift mountains endemic bird as well as 53 species of the Afro tropical highlands biome can be found in Volcanoes national park. The main bird species found here include; Strange weaver, Rwenzori Turaco, Collared apalis, sun bird, Rwenzori Batis, Rwenzori double collared, dusty crimson wing, Red faced woodland warbler, Archer’s ground Robin, Black fronted duiker and the francolins.
This park is situated in south west of Rwanda between the border of Rwanda and Lake Kivu. Nyungwe id also divided north- south by mountains which reach 2,600- 2,900m which forms part of the Congo- Nile watershed. It’s composed of vegetation, water flow as well as biodiversity. The park has over 250 tree species and receives an average annual rain fall ranging 1,500-2,500mm.
This national park is a wonderful birding destination which lies in Butare and provides good roadside birding. There are over 275 species that have been recorded reflecting the wide habitant diversity as well as the altitudinal range. These also include; 25 species of the Albertine Rift, Rockefellers’ sun bird as well as the Chapin’s Fly catcher.11 of the 23 species of the Guinea Congo Forests biome and the 71 species of the biome Afrotropical highlands are recorded on this site. This forest is the most important forest for the conservation of montane birds in Rwanda.
Some of the bird species found here include; Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, Masked Mountain Apalis, Rwenzori Hill Babbler, Neumann’s and Grauer’s Warbles, Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, double-collared, purple-throated, Archer’s Robin-chat, Strange Weaver, Mountain Sooty Boubou, Rwenzori, blue-headed, Red-collared Mountain Babbler, Stripe-breasted Tit, Handsome Francolin, and Rockefeller’s Sunbird. The other wildlife species found here include; 13 primate species like chimpanzees, owl faced monkeys, Golden monkeys, vervet monkeys, leopards, Golden cats, olive baboons, greater bush baby, Dwarf Galago etc.
This wetland is a protected area in Rwanda covering an area of 142.62km and is located in the south east of the country and south east of Kigali city.it includes marshes and swamps which are part of the flood plain of the Nyabarongo River which is the longest river in Rwanda. This wetland is hydrated by River Nyabarongo which is a tributary of the Nile that empties into the famous Akagera River and later flows into Lake Victoria. This river is also believed to be the source of River Nile according to different sources.
This wetland is a strong birding site that lies in the availability of some global species and some of these include; White winged scrub warbler, papyrus Gonolex, Papyrus yellow warbler, Madagascar squacco heron, carruthers’s cisticola, white collared olive back, Northern brown throated weaver, as well as the papyrus canary. More so, 8 of the 11 species of Lake Victoria biome and 3 of the Afro tropical highlands biome can be found at this site. Sitatungas can also be found here as well as the swamp elephants.
This is a small relict forest which is located in the far south west of Rwanda, it’s also close to the town of Nyakabuye near by the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo.it was also connected to Nyungwe forest in the east and its vegetation is denser with few clearings. The main tree species here include; Gorungosanum, Newtonia, Chrysophyllum, Buchananii and Leptonychia.
This forest has Rwanda’s red thinghed sparrow hawk and many other Albertine rift forests like Kungwe Apalis and Ross’s Turaco. The forest also has four species of the Guinea Congo forests biome, it also includes 8 of the 24 species of the albertine Rift Mountains and 33 of the 74 species of the Afro tropical highlands biome which occur in Rwanda. The other wildlife species found here include; chimpanzees, as well as butterflies.
These wetlands are located in the south of Rwanda, along the border of Burundi and north east of Butare, it also close to Rwihinda Lake nature reserve of Burundi. Its vegetation consists of variety of marshy habitants as well as papyrus swamps. The wetland is also dominated by variety of floating vegetation and it has expanses of papyrus as combined or pure stands with shrubby vegetation.
The wetland has over 54 species and some of these include; migrant and globally threatened papyrus Gonolex, Madagascar squacco Heron, lesser swamp, pallid harrier, and lesser kestrel. The wetland also has three of the Afro tropical highlands, Guinea Congo forest Biome as well as 11 species of Lake Victoria basin biome.
This park lies in Mubari Mogongo sub region which is located in north east of Rwanda along both Uganda and Tanzania Borders. Its topography is characterised by the rolling sand stone hills found in the west which are cut in places by deep and narrow valleys. The flood plains as well as the swamps are mostly found in the east, to the south, there is the Buganza and the Gisaka sub region which is wetter. The northern part of the park is dominated by Mutara sub region which has vegetation that is dominated by open grasslands in which are characterised by traditional pastoralism as well as repeated bush fires.
The vegetation of the park is described as savannah ecosystems with in the region and the open savannahs are dominated by three main typical grasses including; the Hyparrhenia filipendula, Themeda Triandra and the cymbopogon grasses. The park has acacia as well combretum predominate as well as more than 250 tree species.
The park boosts of a rich bird checklist of about 525 species which reflects a wide diversity of habitant. It has 44 species of raptor, shoebill stork, papyrus Gonolex, Palearctic migrants, great snipe, black winged and lesser kestrel are recorded. The other Zambezi biome species include; Sauza’s Shrike, long tailed cisticola and the Arnot;s chat.it also includes 7 of the Afro tropical highlands biome, Guinea- Congo forests biome, 9 species of lake Victoria basin Biome. The park also has over 50 species of mammals like the lions, elephants, as well as Rhinos which were introduced to the park.
Above are some of the main birding species found in Rwanda, and many birders have traveled to this beautiful country in order to enjoy these many different bird species.