Akagera National Park is a protected area in eastern Rwanda covering 1,122 km2 (433 sq mi) along the international border with Tanzania. It was founded in 1934 and includes savannah, montane and swamp habitats. The park is named for the Kagera River which flows along its eastern boundary feeding into Lake Ihema and several smaller lakes. The complex system of lakes and linking papyrus swamps makes up over a third of the park, which is the largest protected wetland in Eastern-Central Africa.
Akagera National Park was founded in 1934 by the Belgian government, which at the time occupied Rwanda. The park was 2,500 km2 (970 sq mi) large and was known for its biodiversity.
Akagera used to have a large population of African wild dogs. At one point, it was known as the ‘Parc aux Lycaons’ and wild dogs were so abundant, that the Belgian government considered them a pest. However, a disease epidemic diminished the population and the last wild dogs were seen in 1984.
In 1957, black rhinos were introduced from Tanzania. In the 1970s, more than 50 black rhinos lived in the savannah-habitat of the park. Due to widespread poaching, the population declined over the following decades, and the last confirmed sighting was in 2007. In 1986, Masai giraffes were introduced from Kenya. Their population has grown to over 80 individuals in recent years. Around 1990, Akagera was known to have a population of 250 to 300 lions. In the years following the Rwandan Civil War, the entire population was killed by farmers who returned to Rwanda after the War and settled in the park.