In a couple of hours we will pile into the 4x4s and head east to Akagera National Park (http://www.rwanda-direct.com/rwanda-akagera-park/). We seem to be guaranteed (insert knock on head) to see birds, zebras, giraffes, and all kind of antelope. Whether we see a hippo and some of the other wildlife is questionable. Not only was poaching a problem in the 1980s, but in the post-genocide years the size of the park has been reduced. And, during the genocide apparently a lot of the animals fled or were killed and have only recently started to repopulate the area - some naturally, some by introduction. We are also guaranteed to see baboons as they apparently hang out around the hotel, which is situated in the middle of the park. In fact, I guess if you're on the main level and don't keep your patio door closed they might just come in for a visit! Yikes! I'm told that it's normally a two hour drive, but we have to take a detour because of recent flooding and it will be closer to three. Either way, it's all interesting.
On a more academic note, one of the things that we discussed prior to our departure was the impact of the park/tourism on local communities and the need to involve those communities in decision-making. What we haven't discussed is animal rights and the ethics of photo safaris by vehicle. So many issues, so little time. Although I don't like zoos, I also know that having the opportunity to see animals has the potential to encourage folks to be mindful of our impact on the environment, etc. Like so many things, a double-edged sword. In this case, while I do think there must be some impact from having vehicles go cruising through, at least they're not confined and are living (otherwise) naturally. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to see these creatures in their natural habitat!
If possible, I'll post some photos!
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