Akagera National Park Plant checklist

Principal Investigator:
Dr. Michael B. Thomas
Research Assistants: Pascal Sibomana and Sandrine Uwase

The Checklist Project 
The Checklist of the Vascular Plants of the Akagera National Park (CVPANP) is a specimen-based, expert validated knowledge product, which provides a concise synthesis and overview of current knowledge on 600+ vascular plant species documented from the Akagera National Park- Eastern Province of Rwanda, including their accepted names (According to POWO) and synonyms, as well as their distribution and status within Rwanda (indigenous or introduced, endemic or not). The CVPRG is generated from a thorough literature review and the National Herbarium of Rwanda Collections Database and the Rwanda Plant Names Taxonomic Backbone Database, both developed and maintained at the National Herbarium of Rwanda, in collaboration with the staff of the CoEB. 

The total indigenous vascular plant species are reported and presented as flowering plants (angiosperms); this project estimates a 10-15% increase in known indigenous angiosperms since the last floristic overview. Intended as a reference for scientists documenting the diversity and
distribution of the Rwandan flora, the CVPANP will also inform those seeking to safeguard the rich plant diversity of Rwanda and the societal, ecological and economic benefits accruing from these biological resources.

Search Draft Checklist2023 Akagera National Park Survey 

The so-called taxonomic impediment, i.e. the lack of taxonomic information, expertise and infrastructure in Rwanda, makes access, generation and liberation of taxonomic information extremely difficult. This has inspired the publication of a technical report series dedicated to capacity building in taxonomy and collection management.

Akagera National Park is a captivating wildlife sanctuary located in the eastern part of Rwanda, East Africa. Established in 1934, it is the oldest national park in Rwanda and covers an extensive area of approximately 1,200 square kilometers. Named after the Akagera River that flows along its eastern boundary, the park showcases a diverse landscape that includes open savannahs, hills, lakes, and wetlands. One of the remarkable features of Akagera National Park is its rich biodiversity, housing a wide array of flora and fauna. The park is home to a variety of large mammals, including elephants, buffalos, giraffes, zebras, and numerous antelope species. Predators such as lions, leopards, and hyenas also roam the park, contributing to a balanced and dynamic ecosystem.

The picturesque lakes within Akagera, such as Lake Ihema, provide a habitat for hippos, crocodiles, and a multitude of bird species. The park is a haven for bird enthusiasts, boasting over 500 species, making it a birding paradise. Visitors can spot colorful birds, including the iconic African fish eagle, along with numerous waterfowl. Akagera National Park not only offers incredible wildlife viewing opportunities but also presents a chance to experience the cultural heritage of Rwanda. The park is situated in close proximity to the Akagera River, which serves as a natural border between Rwanda and Tanzania. The local communities surrounding the park contribute to its unique cultural tapestry, and visitors have the opportunity to engage with the people and learn about their traditional ways of life.

In recent years, Akagera has undergone significant conservation efforts and restoration initiatives, making it a success story in wildlife conservation. Collaborative efforts between the Rwandan government, conservation organizations, and local communities have led to the reintroduction of several species that were once extinct in the area, such as lions and rhinos. Akagera National Park stands as a testament to Rwanda’s commitment to conservation and sustainable tourism. Visitors to the park can embark on game drives, boat safaris, and guided walks, immersing themselves in the natural beauty and wildlife wonders that Akagera has to offer. The park provides a unique opportunity to witness the resurgence of a thriving ecosystem in the heart of East Africa. Plants of Akagera Akagera National Park is not only a haven for diverse wildlife but also boasts a rich array of plant life that contributes to the park’s ecological balance. The park’s vegetation varies across its diverse landscapes, encompassing open savannahs, woodlands, wetlands, and lakeshores. Here are some key aspects of the plant life found in Akagera National Park:

  1. Acacia Woodlands: The park features extensive acacia woodlands, characterized by iconic acacia tree species such as Acacia seyal and Acacia nilotica. These trees are well-adapted to the semi-arid conditions of the region and provide essential shade and sustenance for a variety of herbivores.

  2. Savannah Grasses: Open grasslands dominate significant portions of Akagera, creating ideal habitats for herbivores like zebras, buffalos, and antelopes. Grass species like Themeda triandra and Hyparrhenia filipendula are commonly found, supporting the diverse herbivore population.

  3. Wetlands and Lakeside Vegetation: Akagera is blessed with several lakes and wetlands, including Lake Ihema. These areas support lush vegetation, including papyrus reeds (Cyperus papyrus) and various aquatic plants. The wetlands are crucial for water birds, amphibians, and other aquatic life.

  4. Riverine Forests: The Akagera River, which flows along the park’s eastern boundary, is surrounded by riverine forests. These forests are characterized by trees such as figs, mahoganies, and ebony. The riverine vegetation provides habitat and food sources for various bird species, primates, and other wildlife.

  5. Sedges and Grasses in Wetlands: The park’s wetlands are adorned with a variety of sedges and grasses, contributing to the overall biodiversity of the area. These wetland plants play a crucial role in maintaining the health of the ecosystem and providing habitat for numerous species.

  6. Medicinal Plants: The local communities surrounding Akagera National Park have a rich traditional knowledge of medicinal plants. Some plant species found in the park are used by local residents for medicinal purposes, reflecting the interconnectedness of nature and culture in the region.

  7. Vegetation Conservation Efforts: Conservation initiatives in Akagera include efforts to restore and protect native vegetation. Invasive plant species are also monitored and managed to ensure the health of the ecosystem.

The plant life in Akagera National Park is not only ecologically significant but also contributes to the overall beauty and balance of the park’s landscape. As visitors explore the diverse habitats within the park, they can appreciate the intricate relationships between the plants, wildlife, and the environment as a whole.publication