(right) the deck at ruzizi lodge; (below) zebras at akagera national park; (far below) walkway to accommodations at ruzizi
At Ruzizi Tented Lodge in Rwanda’s Akagera National Park, there is a tree that sits in front of the wooden terrace on the shores of Lake Ihema. A thousand weaver nests hang from its branches. In the day’s last light, the nests turn golden. They look like Christmas baubles, the birds hovering and darting in streaks of yellow as they nurture their homes and feed their young. It is bewitching, this business of nature, all the more so in a part of the world almost lost completely to the fallout from Rwanda’s 1994 genocide. Along the Kagera River, which zigzags nearby along Rwanda’s border with Tanzania, refugees and soldiers lay in hidthe park ceased to exist as a safe and functioning wilderness for anything to thrive. Lion, once an everyday
sighting in the Seventies, had completely disappeared.
ing in the bush. The animals had no protectors, while
Post-genocide, Akagera was halved in size, reduced from 2,700 square kilometers, to 1,120 square kilometers to make room for returning refugees. Yet there was still plenty worth saving. Akagera is Rwanda’s only savannah park, with rolling hills of acacia bush, scattered grasslands and riverine forests. Akagera is also home to Central Africa’s largest protected wetland, which accounts for the extraordinarily rich birdlife. In 2009, this potential was recognized by African Parks, a South Africa–based nonprofit currently managing some 5.9 million hectares in seven African countries on behalf of national governments, from Zambia to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Each territory AP is involved with has different issues; all are under threat—critical eco-systems under pressure from conflict or the pan-African poaching scourge.
3/27/15 10:04 AM
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