May 21, 2024

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Ampersand E-Mobility powers up conservation efforts in Akagera National Park

The company’s e-motorcycles will be used to track rhinos and engage with communities around the Rwandan park.

Kigali, Rwanda, 22nd April 2024: Ampersand, Africa’s first electric transport energy company, has announced a new partnership with Akagera National Park in Rwanda to provide the Park’s first two specially designed electric motorcycles as sustainable transport options. It aims to generate savings on fuel and operational costs while improving effectiveness through silent operations.

The National Park, located in northeastern Rwanda, is the largest protected wetland in Central Africa. Home to diverse landscapes and wildlife, including elephants, lions, and rhinos, one of the major benefits of these electric vehicles is the reduction in operating costs leading to increased effectiveness in protecting these species. E-motorcycles from Ampersand produce very little noise and no exhaust fumes, which reduces disturbance to the animals and enhances the tracking teams’ efficacy. 

“Our partnership with Akagera National Park is a great example of how e-mobility can be a sustainable solution for everyone. The future of African mobility is electric. Not just in the cities, but in the rural places and the parks. The e-motorbikes provided to the Park were carefully crafted with extensive research as the foundation of our design process: we built a prototype model for off-road tracking, and an upgrade of our base model for the staff to conduct important liaison work with the local communities”, said Josh Whale, CEO and Founder of Ampersand. “We are proud to be part of this effort to reduce carbon emissions and protect the area for savannah-adapted species.” 

Akagera National Park is a leader in wildlife resettlement, with black rhinos re-introduced and white rhinos introduced to the park in recent years. The ability to track these animals to understand their movement, monitor their welfare and protect them from poaching with a minimum of disturbance is essential to this work.

“Poaching in Akagera National Park has significantly decreased thanks to the park’s robust law enforcement and community engagement efforts. Daily patrols and vigilant tracking are crucial, particularly for high-value species such as rhinos. Unfortunately, according to most sources, Africa still loses at least one rhino every day. Without immediate action, we risk witnessing their gradual extinction. That is why tracking and monitoring these magnificent creatures is crucial to ensure their protection. The incorporation of Ampersand’s electric motorcycles will improve the Park’s ability to track and monitor these endangered animals while also reducing operating costs and environmental impact”, said Luke Davey, Operations Manager of Akagera National Park.

Nsengiyaremye Fidel, Rhino Monitoring unit of Akagera National Park, commented: “As someone who has been riding Ampersand’s electric motorcycle for the past twelve months, I’ve experienced many of its advantages: First, it’s automatic, so I don’t stress about the gears; Second, they are powerful electric motorcycles with the ability to climb steep roads; Third, this e-moto aids us in approaching specific animals and leaving them undisturbed in their natural behaviour. Although inherently quiet, Ampersand has incorporated sound speakers on the bikes so that when initially approaching, the animal can be made aware of the motorcycle without being disturbed by it. The design is perfect for our need.” 

Developing these two electric motorcycles for Akagera’s challenging terrain allows Ampersand’s Kigali-based R&D team to stress-test the company’s vehicle design, components, and battery packs and advance vehicle development. Using electric vehicles means Akagera ‘walks the talk’ on the critical linkage between climate change and conservation. Yet by working closely together to develop these vehicles, Akagera National Park goes a step further: Directly helping to accelerate Ampersand’s mission to replace the 30 million petrol motorcycles in Africa with durable, affordable electric motorcycles.

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