Rwanda's Incredible Wildlife in 20 Photos

Zebra herd in Akagera National Park | © Courtesy of Jacques Kinzingabo
Picture of Leah Feiger
Updated: 29 August 2017
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Rwanda is an undoubtable wildlife haven. The country is truly diverse, possessing three ecosystems and three national parks within 10,000 square miles. Home to rare mountain gorillas, lions, rhinoceroses, elephants, giraffes, zebras, over 700 bird species, and so much more, visiting Rwanda should be at the top of any wildlife lover’s bucket list. Check out these photographs for some inspiration.

Mountain Gorillas

Located only in Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, mountain gorillas are on the World Wildlife Fund’s critically endangered list. There are approximately 880 mountain gorillas left in the world, with about half of the population residing in Rwanda. Rwanda’s conservation efforts have been hugely successful in recent years, and these social animals have managed to increase their population by 25% in the last decade.

Mountain Gorilla in Volcanoes National Park
Silverback Gorilla in Volcanoes National Park
Young Mountain Gorilla in Volcanoes National Park


In 1975, 26 elephants were moved from Kigali to Akagera National Park. One of the elephants, Mutware, is still alive today, and is known for eating crops from nearby villages and generally harassing park tourists. However, he is an important part of park lore, and beloved by the country.

Elephant in Akagera National Park


Of the 700 bird species in Rwanda, many of them are rare and endangered. They can be spotted all over the country, at Nyungwe National Park, Volcanoes National Park, Akagera National Park, Mukura Forest Reserve and more.

Bird in the papyrus swamps near Gashora dam
Regal Sunbird in Nyungwe National Park
Grey Crowned Crane in Akagera National Park


Lions were reintroduced to Akagera National Park in 2015, after not being seen in the country since the 1994 genocide. Seven lions were flown into Rwanda from a private South African game reserve, and 15 lions now roam Akagera’s northern plains.

Lion in Akagera National Park
Lions in Akagera National Park
Lioness in Akagera National Park


There are an abundance of primates in Rwanda. Other than the famous mountain gorilla, tourists can track chimpanzees, colobus monkeys, owl faced monkeys, and golden monkeys in Volcanoes National Park and Nyungwe National Park.

Baboon in Akagera National Park
Vervet Monkeys in Akagera National Park


Akagera National Park is home to many different kinds of antelope, including duikers, klipspringer, bush bucks, and impalas.

Antelope in Akagera National Park
Antelopes in Akagera National Park


Akagera National Park has more than 100 giraffes. Easy to find in the northern plains of the park, the stark beauty of a giraffe is difficult to forget.

Giraffe in Akagera National Park


Contrary to popular belief, hippopotamuses are the most dangerous animal a tourist could encounter on safari. Hippopotamuses have been known to attack, kill, and maim anything that gets in between them and their water. In Akagera National Park, hippopotamuses can usually be found at hippo beach.

Hippopotamus in Akagera National Park


Colorful lizards found across the country are generally shy creatures. The agama lizard, hailing from the Agamidae family, is found most frequently in sub-Saharan Africa.

Blue Headed Agama Lizard in Gisenyi


Hordes of zebras call Akagera National Park home, and their stark black and white appearance always makes for an excellent photograph.

Zebra in Akagera National Park


Similar to the plight of the lions, rhinoceroses had not been seen in Rwanda for many years. However, in May 2017, 20 black rhinoceroses were transferred to Rwanda from South Africa. There are fewer than 5,000 black rhinoceroses left in the world, and conservationists in Rwanda have big hopes for their rhinoceros population. Additionally, with the reintroduction of the rhinoceros, Rwanda once again has Africa’s big five.

Rhinoceros in Akagera National Park
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