17 January 2013

Rwanda: Completion of Akagera Fence Pushed to March

The electric fence being built around Akagera National Park will be completed by the end March, an official has said.

The fence is being constructed to end the human-wildlife conflict that has upset people living around the park for years.

A fortnite ago, a stray hippopotamus killed a 51-year-old man, who, it is presumed, was guarding his crops from park animals in Kayonza district.

In 2011, the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) started setting up a 2.5-metre high metallic mesh with electric cables.

"We expect the fence to be completed latest by end of March. So far, 81.6 kilometres are covered, out of 110 kilometres," RDB acting CEO, Clare Akamanzi, said on Tuesday. "The rest was delayed because new land issues emerged that affected park boundaries, and which we have resolved in parts of Kayonza and Nyagatare."

Efforts made

Among other efforts to deal with the dilemma, government last year initiated an insurance fund and a compensation scheme to pay damages to people affected by animal attacks.

In 2009, deaths from crocodile attacks on the crocodile infested Akagera River in Nyagatare district forced government to rush to the rescue of worried residents.

In September 2009, local and government authorities assessed how human-wildlife conflict can be minimised. It was decided that a fence would be part of the solution.

Last week, Rica Rwigamba, the head of tourism and conservation at RDB, they also teamed up with local authorities to ensure "activities that attract the wild animals" to the park periphery are minimised.

Rwigamba said the residents have been sensitised about the fence and the buffer zone.

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