- Last Updated on Thursday, 21 February 2013 07:41
|Great Blue Toraco,|
Rwanda has one of the highest bird counts on the continent despite being one of the smallest countries in Africa, it's size 26 338sqkms. Include the high number of birding 'specials' to be seen, and the primate experiences as a bonus, and it's no wonder that most pundits rank it within the top five destinations for those seeking a rewarding birding experience.
Rwanda has at least 692 resident, visitors and occassional visiting bird species. An additional 5 locally extinct and another 5 are to be confirmed. This brings the total to a maximum of 702 species. (Vande weghe, J.P. & G. Vande weghe- 2011 in press- Birds in Rwanda, ROB). And of these, there are at least 27 birds known as Albertine Rift Endemics, a total higher than any country in Africa, other than the DRC.
Landlocked and lying just south of the Equator, Rwanda has a diverse topography that has been shaped by the dynamics of one of Africa's primary geological features, the Great Rift Valley. Tumultuous subterranean forces have over the last 50 million years contorted, ruptured and seared the crust, giving rise to a hugely impressive array of volcanoes, lakes, mountain ranges and forests that define the landscapes of today. Collectively, they make up the narrower and shorter Western Branch of the rift valley, or, because Lake Albert is its first discernable feature, The Albertine Rift or Albertine Eco-region.
- Last Updated on Thursday, 21 February 2013 07:39
|Masaka, a birding area near Kigali|
The Nyarutarama Lake, or "Lover's Lake" bordering the Kigali Golf Course, is surrounded by a track which offers excellent nature walks and bird watch ing opportunities. The Nyabarongo Wetlands al so offer walking paths and good bird watching. This protected area covers 142.62km2 with two lakes- Lake Mirayi in the south and Lake Rumira in the north. The wetlands are fed by the Nyabarongo River, a tributary of the Nile, which empties into the Akagera River which, in turn, flows into Lake Victoria.
Volcanoes National Park
To the north lies the Volcanoes National Park, which protects the Rwandan portion of the Virunga Mountains, a Transforntier Conservation Area that includes protected areas in Uganda and the DRC. Forming a complex of mostly dormant volcanoes, it includes Rwanda's highest point, Mount Karisimbi (4 507m), and the two active ones, Mount Nyiragongo and Mount Nyamuragira. While more famous for its mountain gorillas and other primates, Volcanoes boasts almost 165 bird species, 17 Endemic to the Area.
Nyungwe National park
The Nyungwe National Park, a tropical mountain rainforest and one of Rwanda main protected areas, and lies on the south -western slopes of the highland region that forms the great divide between the Congo and Nile drainage systems. The park protects one of the region 's largest and oldest remaining patches of montane rainforest and is home to 310 species of bird s.
The fo rests Rwanda are increasingly being sought out for the incredible birding opportunities, particularly the numerous Albertine Rift endemics; 27 to be found in Nyungwe, the highest concentration found in any single park in Africa. Amongst them are the; Regal Sunbird, Cinnyris regius, Red -Collared Babbler, Kupeomis rufocinctus, Rwenzori Turaco, Gallirex johnstoni, Handsome Spurfowl, Pternistis nobi/is, Rwenzori Batis, Batis diops, Grauer's Swamp-Warbler, Bradypterus graueri, Blueheaded Sunbird, Cyanomitra oritis, possibly the rarest of all endemic birds would be the Albertine Owlet, Glaucidium albertinium, known from only five records in the area.
Akagera National Park
The Akagera National Park in the northeast still covers a sizeable chunk of savannah. A mix of rolling grassland interspersed with broad-leafed and acacia woodland, these lower-lying lands are dissected by the Akagera River. The sought after species here would be; Red -faced Barbet, Lybius rubrifacies, Sousa's Shrike, Lanius souzae, and White-Collared Oliveback, Nesocharis ansorgei, amongst others. The park has a mosaic of wetlands and lakes, along the cou rse of the Akagera River and the eastern boundary.
Wetlands and Marshes
Rwanda's wetlands and marshes, covering just over 10% of the country, include Rugezi, the fourth of the main protected areas, as well as two other locations, Akanyaru Wetlands and Nyabarongo Wetlands, that have been declared Important Birding Areas (IBA's) by Birdlife International. If there's still time on the schedule, the keenest of birders can still head to a number of forest reserves scattered around the country.