Working for birds in Africa


Fri, 01/25/2013 - 11:22 -- abc_admin

Black-headed Weaver Ploceus melanocephalus in Kigali

Image Credit: 
John Caddick

Lesser Honeyguide Indicator minor in Kigali

Image Credit: 
John Caddick

Nyungwe Forest Reserve

Image Credit: 
John Caddick

Purple-breasted Sunbird Cinnyris bifasciatus at Nyungwe

Image Credit: 
John Caddick

Sulphur-breasted Bush-Shrike Telophorus sulfureopectus, Akagera, Rwanda

Image Credit: 
John Caddick

Black-headed Gonolek Laniarius erythrogaster in Papyrus marsh, Rwanda

Image Credit: 
John Caddick


Most visitors from overseas will pass through or stay for a few days in the capital, Kigali. A half or one day visit to the area around the golf course, nearby lake and degraded woodland habitat would be productive. The following species were among some of those found in a three hour visit to this area in July 2011: Pink-backed Pelican Pelecanus rufescens; Narina Trogon Apaloderma narina; Lesser Honeyguide Indicator minor; Black Cuckoo-Shrike Campephaga flava; Bronzy Sunbird Nectarinia kilimensis; Grey-backed Fiscal Lanius excubitorius; Ruppell's Starling Lamprotornis purpuroptera and Black-headed Weaver Ploceus melanocephalus.


The best birding in the Albertine Rift in Rwanda is to be had in Nyungwe Forest Reserve. 25 Albertine Rift endemics have been recorded here. This reserve adjoins the Kibira National Park in Burundi to protect one of the largest areas of montane forest in Africa. The tar road from Butare to Cyangugu on the DRC border runs through the heart of the forest. The site has regular public transport, a camp site (at the summit of the pass, in the centre of the forest) and inexpensive guest house (on the western edge of the forest).

The following information was received from an ABC member in August 2009 with updates from the July 2011 tour.

  • It costs $US20 per person to enter the park, with no extra charge for subsequent consecutive days.
  • A birding guide costs $US30 per day, this on top of the entry charge. The specialist bird guides are good.
  • It may be possible to birdwatch without a guide by simply walking on the main road that runs through the park, as the road per se is not part of the park. The birding is excellent from the road but some of the forest birds would not be found along the road.
  • An excelent new visitor centre has been built at Uwinka.
  • It would be a good idea to book accommodation (the guesthouse on the Western edge of the park or camping at Uwinka) in advance during dry season weekends, as the park is popular with the many westerners working in Kigali who come to visit habituated chimpanzees.
  • There is the possibility of camping at the tea factory near the guesthouse on the Western edge of the park.
  • Nyungwe NP as a whole must be the best readily accessible protected montane rainforest area in Africa.

You can download a paper by DOWSETT, R.J. editor (1990) Survey of the Fauna and Flora of Nyungwe Forest, Rwanda. Tauraco Research Report No.3 from the Rwanda references page.


Rwanda’s Akagera National Park, a savanna-dominated area in the north-east of the country that lies in the Victoria Basin, is still its largest, but has been reduced in size by over 60% in the last 10 years.This area holds an interesting selection of species associated with a diversity of habitats: wetlands, woodlands, grasslands, riparian forest and bush country. Indeed, Akagera has one of the longest species lists for any conservation area in Africa: over 525 species have been recorded. There is accommodation at the very smart and recently rebuilt Akagera Game Lodge as well as a number of other hotels and camping possibilities less than one hour’s drive from the reserve.


A further component of Rwanda that is of particular interest to birders is the number of wetlands, which occupy almost 10% of the country. Three of these are IBAs and the main wetlands are: Akanyaru and Nyabarongo on the southern border with Burundi, Rugezi in the north near the Ugandan border, Mugesera-Rugwero in the south-east and Kagera along the eastern border with Tanzania. Little information exists as to how these wetlands can be visited.

Further information about the key species which can be found at these sites is contained in the introduction section and information about most of them can be found at BirdLife International.

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