To ease your site search, article categories are at bottom of page.

August 08, 2011

Animal-human conflict rages in eastern Rwanda

by Heather Murdock

Nearly 17 years after civil war and genocide devastated the country, Rwanda is mostly peaceful, and the economy is growing fast. But in the eastern countryside, conflict still rages. Wild animals attack people, while gangs of poachers roam the forest endangering the wildlife and the rangers trying to protect them.

Antoine, says he has lived in the village of Humere for three years. He is trying to grow sorghum beans and maize. For three years, he says, animals from the nearby Akagera National Park have raided his crops. He  says he cannot feed his family, and he is thinking of moving on. But in Rwanda, the most densely populated country in Africa, land is scarce.

In the 1990s, as this country reeled from a crushing civil war and the fastest genocide in history, this part of eastern Rwanda, Akagera National Park, was packed with refugees, militants, and farmers whose cows had nowhere to graze.

Now, zebras meander and giraffes loiter in this 1,100-square-kilometer reserve, while buffalo, elephants, crocodiles, and hippos march through the bush or bob in the lakes, and 530 different kinds of birds flutter above.

But locals say although the human war is over, conflict continues in and around the park between animals and people. Buffalo, elephants and hippos wander out, killing and maiming people, and eating crops. People march in, in groups as large as 100 strong, illegally killing everything from hippos to rabbits.

Theogene Semugisha oversees social services for Ndego, a district of almost 15,000 people who live around Akagera. He says as many as 80 percent of the people in his area lose crops every year to animals.

Bryan Havemann, the Akagera project manager for South African non-profit developers African Parks, says that every day animals are poached, and last year two rangers were shot and killed. He says the only way to stop poachers is to train rangers as a paramilitary fighting force. But he says even with training, rangers still lack ammunition and the authority to fight back.

For the rapidly growing population surrounding the park, the animals are as dangerous as the poachers. Last year, five people were killed and 15 wounded in animal attacks. Currently the Rwandan government is planning to build a $2.7 million electric fence, to keep the animals in the park. Havemann says if the fence is maintained, it could go a long way towards quieting the conflict.

In the meantime, villagers say they are barely surviving.


Mushimiyimana, lives hand-to-mouth on the crops she grows when the animals don’t raid the fields. A few years ago, a hippopotamus killed her husband. She says in the dry season, it is hard to feed her family with the crops they grow. When her husband went to the forest to forge for food one night, he met a hippo. Neighbors found his body, and he was buried the next day.

Article Categories

AGRA agribusiness agrochemicals agroforestry aid Algeria aloe vera Angola aquaculture banana barley beans beef bees Benin biodiesel biodiversity biof biofuel biosafety biotechnology Botswana Brazil Burkina Faso Burundi CAADP Cameroon capacity building cashew cassava cattle Central African Republic cereals certification CGIAR Chad China CIMMYT climate change cocoa coffee COMESA commercial farming Congo Republic conservation agriculture cotton cow pea dairy desertification development disease diversification DRCongo drought ECOWAS Egypt Equatorial Guinea Ethiopia EU EUREPGAP events/meetings exports fa fair trade FAO fertilizer finance fisheries floods flowers food security fruit Gabon Gambia gender issues Ghana GM crops grain green revolution groundnuts Guinea Bissau Guinea Conakry HIV/AIDS honey hoodia horticulture ICIPE ICRAF ICRISAT IFAD IITA imports India infrastructure innovation inputs investment irrigation Ivory Coast jatropha kenaf keny Kenya khat land deals land management land reform Lesotho Liberia Libya livestock macadamia Madagascar maize Malawi Mali mango marijuana markets Mauritania Mauritius mechanization millet Morocco Mozambique mushroom Namibia NEPAD Niger Nigeria organic agriculture palm oil pastoralism pea pest control pesticides pineapple plantain policy issues potato poultry processing productivity Project pyrethrum rai rain reforestation research rice rivers rubber Rwanda SADC Sao Tome and Principe seed seeds Senegal sesame Seychelles shea butter Sierra Leone sisal soil erosion soil fertility Somalia sorghum South Africa South Sudan Southern Africa spices standards subsidies Sudan sugar sugar cane sustainable farming Swaziland sweet potato Tanzania tariffs tea tef tobacco Togo tomato trade training Tunisia Uganda UNCTAD urban farming value addition value-addition vanilla vegetables water management weeds West Africa wheat World Bank WTO yam Zambia Zanzibar zero tillage Zimbabwe

  © 2007 Africa News Network design by Ourblogtemplates.com

Back to TOP