East Africa – Day 31

Rwanda 18 August 2015

I have not been able to upload photographs to my blog without wifi or decent band width but will add my photographs to my blog post as soon as I can.

We are having the most brilliant time in Uganda with everything being great. Our trip was organised by our local ground agents Avian Watch Uganda. Everything is going really well with Robert, our fantastic guide (who knows all the sites and calls and can whistle birds in) and Paul, our driver and fixer, for who nothing was too much.

Today was our sixth day of birding in Rwanda.

Today we were at Akagera National Park and it was another early start getting up before 5.00 am for 5.30 am breakfast. We found out that the hotel only opened 4 months ago, which was probably why everything was still clean and sparkly.

It was our last day with Robert and Paul from Avian Watch Uganda. We were all keen to finish on high with as many birds as possible. On our flight from Kigali to Nairobi, our next destination was at 6.50 pm and it was s 3 ½ hour drive, so we needed to leave by midday. But we were leaving at 10.00 am as after dropping us off, Paul had to go on and drive the long way back over the border to Uganda. The immigration officer had refused to let them rest for the evening before driving back the next day, telling them they had “no business resting in Rwanda”. So they have been out today meaning we have left the National Park earlier. I’m not sure I like Rwanda.

Apparently, they plan to introduce White Rhino here. I am concerned about the lack of animals here, not even any antelope. In two full days of driving around, we saw 1 Zebra, 1 Buffalo and 1 Warthog.

I believe the animals have been poached to extinction and I’ve no idea what is being done by the officious park rangers about it.

Just outside the hotel, there was a troop of Baboons, which I was taking photographs of, especially mothers with babies. Then I noticed a large male limping on his upper paw. Had he been in a fight? Then we saw 4 more Baboons all with half of their upper limb missing, from being caught in traps. Was this being done by the local villages? Why was nothing being done to stop this? Just after, I took some photographs of a Black-faced Monkey. Then it went to move away and I was shocked to see that, it had half an upper limb missing. This is disgusting and I would like to know how this is happening.

Just as we were getting sorted to get into the Toyota Landcruiser, Robert wandered off into the car park. Suddenly, we heard his excited shouts. Seconds later we were getting crippling views of a Red-faced Barbet, a really rare bird for East Africa.

We made it the few hundred metres to just outside the park headquarters car park and got out of the vehicle to the bird. Immediately, a ranger told us to stay in our vehicle – we were 5 metres from the car park where it was safe to walk around safely!

Just after we had gotten into the vehicle, we all saw a Tropical Boubou fly across from one tree to another and the show well at the top of a tree.

At about 8.45 am, we saw an antelope here, our third animal in three days – shocking. I’m going to e-mail the park when we get home to find out what has happened here. Although they are introducing White Rhino here, surely they should start with an antelope, Zebra and Giraffe as well.

We left Akagera National Park at 9.30 am to drive to Kigali to catch our flight, having seen 5 more antelope by the gate.

Our best birds of the day in the National Park were Red-headed Barbet, Tropical Boubou and Black-coloured Barbet.

We stopped at a pond before Kigali, just getting a few new species for our Rwanda list. Not long afterwards we stopped at some fish ponds. We didn’t see anything unusual at the fish ponds and started to walk back to the car when Robert found us a Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, which was a great little bird and a lifer for me. That was three new birds for our last morning.

When we got to the vehicle, Paul was talking to a boy wearing a t-shirt and shorts with no shoes. He and his clothes looked dusty and dirty. Back inside the vehicle, Paul told us that the boy, (who looked about my age) told him that he had never seen a white person before. Paul had asked him what he thought, telling him that we were so ugly. The boy had then said “no, they are soo beautiful!”

We then had our lunch and Mum and Paul gave him food, which he was ecstatic with. Paul then told us that the boy would never forget today, the first time he saw a white person and that they gave him some food.

We were at Kigali airport at a good time for our flight at one thirty pm, 4 hours boot our flight.

Trip list – 585 birds for Uganda, 183 birds for Rwanda, total trip list of 612 and 292 lifers for me.

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