Rwanda is a small country of 26338 square kilometers/10169 square miles situated in the Heart of Africa. This country is often referred as the Land of a thousand Hills because of its hilly terrains and mountains that offer picturesque views of the countryside that make it worth visiting for a Safari.
Rwanda is internationally known to be a home to over 150 species of mammals that include the famous Mountain gorillas in addition to other 12 species of primates that can be seen in the country. There are also over 670 species of birds in this country and 26 species of them are endemic to the western arm of the Rift Valley. Rwanda is a biodiversity hotspot with most of its wildlife and bird species concentrated in four National Parks that include Volcanoes National Park that is blanketed by tropical rainforest and bamboo forest and popular for the Mountain gorillas, the Akagera National Park which is the country’s only savannah Park were you will encounter several antelope species, and all the Big five animals, Nyungwe Forest National Park known for over 13 species of primates and the Gishwati-Mukura National Park-the newest park created in 2016. From the strong background that Rwanda holds in conserving primates, many safari operators offer primate safaris to Rwanda to see the mountain gorillas, golden monkey & Chimpanzee in famous national parks .
However, most of the country’s mammal species are threatened, and classified as critically endangered, others are categorized as endangered species while the rest are categorized as vulnerable mammal species. In no particular order, the following are the threatened mammal species;
Mountain Gorillas – Gorilla Beringei beringei
Mountain gorillas are critically endangered wildlife species found within Volcanoes National park and their world population is currently estimated at over 880 individuals but only 300 of them are within Rwanda. Mountain gorillas are threatened by encroachment, hunting and illegal bush meat trade, respiratory diseases and injuries and habitat loss among others. However, several efforts are being put in place to reduce on the threats.
Black Rhinoceros – Diceros bicornis
Rhinos were at one point extinct in Rwanda but in 2017, some Rhinos were translocated to Akagera National Park to restore the Big five status of Rwanda from its former glory. However, that doesn’t mean that they are not threatened but they are affected by poaching and illegal trade of tusks, bush meat and encroachment on their habitats by surrounding communities.
The African elephants – Loxodonta Africana
African elephants are found in Akagera National park and the Volcanoes National park. These large mammals are also part of the Big Five animals. They are always killed for their highly valued tusks that are believed to sell like hot cake in the black market especially Asian countries.
The African Wild Dog – Lycaon pictus-Pelomys hopkinsi
The world population of the African Wild Dogs is currently estimated at 6600 wild African Dogs in the Wild and in Rwanda, they are found in Akagera National Park. These mammals are threatened through high rate of habitat loss and human-carnivore conflicts where the communities surrounding the National Park kill them because they pose threat to their domestic animals and their lives.
The Common Chimpanzees – Pan Troglodytes
Common Chimpanzees are threatened and in Rwanda, there are about 500 chimpanzees within Nyungwe Forest National Park and Gishwati-Mukura Forest National Park. These primates are threatened through high rate of habitat loss and the fact that most of them are used as pets in Asian countries.
The African Golden Cats – Caracal Aurata
These carnivores are also found within Akagera National Park and suffer from human-carnivore conflicts where they are killed through poisoning because they are a threat to their lives and livestock.
The African Lion – Panthera Leo
In Rwanda, the African Lions are found in Volcanoes National park and the Akagera National Park and are threatened by encroachment on their habitat hence leading to habitat loss, poisoning by local communities, diseases and accidents among others.
Other threatened species in Rwandan include the Spotted-necked Otter-Hydrictis maculicollis, the Hopkins’s Groove-toothed Swamp Rat, the Large-eared Free-tailed Bat-Otomops martiensseni, the Dwarf Multimammate Mouse-Mastomys pernanus and the Carruther’s Mountain squirrel-Funisciurus carruthersi among others.