Kahuzi-Biega National Park

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Kahuzi-Biega National Park, Africa
Photo by: Wikimedia Commons , Creative Commons

The Kahuzi-Biega National Park is located in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is around 50 kilometers west of Bukavu town in the Kivu region, adjacent to the western side of Lake Kivu and the Rwandan border. It was created to primarily protect the last remaining population of the Eastern Lowland gorilla or Gorilla beringei graueri. The park is one of the few last refuges of this rare sub-species of Eastern gorilla. The famous Diane Fossey, protégé of the equally famous Dr Louis Leakey, originally did her studies here before moving on to Rwanda.

It is estimated that there are only 600 gorillas remaining throughout the park, earning it a place in the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site. However, ongoing fighting in the Congo and the resulting looting, poaching, and burning of the forest has decimated around 60% of that population. As a result, the Kahuzi-Biega National Park was also included in the list of World Heritage Sites in Danger.

Despite the apparent dangers, people still continue to visit this place just to experience being in a primary tropical forest and spot the diverse wildlife as well as the last few remaining graueri gorillas. Aside from the gorillas, the park is also home to some antelope and elephants. This vast park area is dominated by the two extinct volcanoes from which it is named after, Mount Kahuzi and Mount Biega. In this part of the Kivu region, Mount Kahuzi is the highest peak.

Generally, the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo is very volatile as armed conflicts erupt every now and then. However, visits to the park are doable as long as the necessary precautions are taken. Visitors who have gone there report that the situation has improved a bit and tourism is needed in order to support conservation efforts of scientists and park rangers.

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