Recovery of ungulate populations in post-civil war Akagera National Park, Rwanda
Following the 1991–1995 civil war in Rwanda, large parts of Akagera National Park (NP) and the adjacent Mutara Game Reserve were endowed by government to returning war refugees for cattle grazing. In 1997, official degazettement reduced the area covered by these two protected areas by 60% (from 2800 km² to 1120 km2. This study reports trends in population sizes and densities of ungulates in modern Akagera NP (1120 km²), with a focus on the more common ungulates (impala, topi, zebra, buffalo, waterbuck, and warthog). Data from previous surveys are compared with our 2010–2014 road strip counts using distance sampling. A decline of ungulate populations during the civil war, followed by recovery several years after reduction of the size of the Park, is evident. The ungulate populations show different trends in size in recent years, suggesting that the carrying capacity has been reached for some species.
Keywords: density estimates, distance sampling, protected area reduction, antelopes, post-conflict trend