Top Wild animals in Rwanda

Matt Smith

Without a doubt, Rwanda is a paradise for wildlife lovers. Adding to its thousand hills, this country consists of three National Parks that provide habitat to its rich biodiversity.

It is inclusive of those destinations that boast Africa’s outstanding charm and welcomes a plethora of adventurers from different parts of the World. 

Of all highlights in Rwanda, Wildlife is the top draw. Varying from Wild animals, reptiles, insects to different bird species, you have a plentiful list to relish on a Wildlife Safari in Rwanda. 

Basing on the number of days in Rwanda, you may not be able to finish all list, therefore check out below the top must-see animals before you live the country.

Mountain Gorillas

For a couple of years, Mountain Gorillas have been amongst the top highlights for a Rwanda Safari. These apes are a subspecies of the Eastern Gorillas, there are only found in the Eastern and Central part of Africa. 

There are herbivores in nature and feed mostly on tree leaves, fruits, insects, coconuts, bamboo shoot and stem. Gorillas are distinguished by their long arms, large heads and broad chests. They usually live in groups that consist of male and female adults, juveniles and infants. 

A group is led by a dominant Silver-back that is responsible for protecting members in the group, looking for what to eat and construction of temporary shelters. 

Male gorillas are bigger (450 pounds) when compared to the female that weighs 220 pounds. By height, male Gorillas stand up to 5.6 feet and females are 4.9 feet. These apes in Rwanda are only found in Volcanoes National Park.


Elephants are inclusive of the African big fives. Rwanda has only the species of the Savannah elephants that are approximated to 100 and its number are increasing seriously. These species are the largest terrestrial animals. 

Males usually reach up to 13 feet when standing and weighs 10.4 tons. Their sensitive trunks allow them to uplift about 3% of their body weight. Elephants in Rwanda are mainly threatened by poaching. 

The Park to go for these Wild animals is Akagera National Park, it is geographically situated in the Eastern wing of the country.


Before 1994 conflict, Lions were abundant in Rwanda, but during this unrest, many lions were killed and other migrated from Rwanda to search for greener pastures in the nearby countries like Uganda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

There are among the African big fives and categorized under big cats family. There are omnivores and their favorite food is meat. 

Today the total number of lions in Rwanda is approximated to 25, some are believed to have migrated from nearby Tanzania. You can only see these animals in the country’s Akagera National Park.


Antelopes form a bigger percentage on Africa’s diverse wildlife. Most of these species inhabit the lust habitats in the East African countries including Rwanda. 

This land of a thousand hills is home to several antelope species such as roan antelopes, Impalas, duikers, Klipspringer and more. 

There are usually small in size and feed only on grass and tree leaves. Akagera National Park in the Eastern part of the country is the main locality to see a lot of these animals.


If you wish to meet with the chimpanzees, the closest primates to human being features, Rwanda is a perfect stop. Chimpanzees are tailless, omnivores (feeding both on the grass and fresh), black in color and feed both in-ground and up in the tree branches.

Though they can feed on fresh, fruits are their favorite food. To add on, these primates live in communities that usually consist of between 15 -30 members. While in Rwanda, you can admire the remarkable sights of these animals in Nyungwe Forest National Park. 

This protected area hides in the southwestern part of Rwanda. It includes the prominent Nyungwe Forest that provides luxuriant habitats to the chimps and other wildlife species.


Giraffes usually differentiate themselves by a long neck, no other animal has this kind of neck in all World. These animals are usually inclusive of the travelers’ wish list especially those who visit Rwanda for Wildlife. 

The total number of giraffes in Rwanda is estimated to be one hundred. Two subspecies (Angolan and Masai giraffes) are typical residents in Akagera National Park. 

Giraffes often feed on tree leaves, there are browsers. You can easily sight them from a pop roof vehicle while on a game drive in Akagera.


Commonly found in the floodplains of sub-Saharan Africa, savannah and semi-deserts, Topis are a subspecies of the African antelope. These animals reside mostly in the favorable habitats of East Africa, that’s why there are residents in Rwanda. 

Topis and other antelopes feed on grass, there are the main food for the big cats such as lions, leopards and more. 

Topis in Rwanda are classified as vulnerable by the IUCN and enjoy life in Akagera National Park’s grasslands. There are among the common animals that welcome tourists who embark on a game drive in Rwanda’s hub of Wildlife encounters.


To most tourists and locals, Guereza is known as the black and white monkey. It is one of the species that make up Rwanda’s great list of primates. Besides Rwanda, these primates are common in Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Kenya, Chad and Cameroon. 

Guereza has some subspecies that are distinguished by their appearance. One of the subspecies are the mantled guereza; there are black with white fringes of silky hair. 

Due to a large variety of food near swamps and rivers, Guereza prefers staying in riverside forests. In Rwanda, these animals are mainly threatened by loss of habitats.


Aardvark is nocturnal, and the only living species in the order Tubulidentata found in Africa. These animals look like pigs and use their long snout to sniff out food. 

Its exact population in Rwanda is not yet established, but there are more common in the country’s savannah, bushland and grasslands. 

During the day, they hide in underground burrows to escape heavy sunshine. Their main predators are lions, wild dogs, hyenas and leopards.


Commonly found in sub-Saharan Africa, Hippos are one of the largest animals in the World. There are semiaquatic; live both in water and on land, the grass is their main feed. In Rwanda, these mammals are found in Akagera National Park’s rivers and swamps.


These animals were nonresidents in Rwanda for a couple of years, but in May 2017, about twenty black Rhinoceros were transferred back to Rwanda. 

Rhinos are the second largest animals in Africa after Elephants. There are grazers and mainly feed on grass. After the reintroduction of these mammals, Rwanda now has all the African big fives in Akagera National Park.

Golden Monkeys

Golden monkeys are primates and belong to the Old World monkey family. Their main feed is bamboo shoot and stem, this gives a reason why there are mostly found in mountainous bamboo forested areas. Alike chimpanzees, Golden monkeys live in communities that consist of about 15 – 30 members. For Rwanda, Golden monkeys are only found in the famed Volcanoes National Park.