When Sarah Hall arrived to run Rwanda’s oldest national park in 2010, its rangers could barely cope with poachers who were trapping hippos in snares for food. The rhinos had vanished. The lions had been wiped out.

Last year, the reserve drew more than 37,000 visitors from Rwanda and abroad, tourists eager to observe such wildlife favourites as 22 lions and 18 black rhinos flown in from SA.

“It feels like a very different place from nine years ago,” said Hall, who manages Akagera park together with her husband, as she stood near a fenced enclosure holding motorbikes seized from poachers and hundreds of rusty snares.

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