Kahuzi Biega National Park is a renowned protected area found near Bukavu town on the eastern side of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Kahuzi Biega National Park is located next to the western shore of Lake kivu and the Rwandan border. The National Park was established in 1970 mainly for the conservation of the endangered grauer’s gorillas also known as the low land gorillas. It was gazetted by the Belgian photographer and also a conservationist by the name of Adrien de Schryver. The National Park is quite a vast area covering about 6000sq.km.
The name of Kahuzi Biega National Park is derived from the two major volcanoes found in the area, that is, mountain Kahuzi which elevates high about 3308m above sea level and Biega volcano elevate high about 2790m above. This park is one of the biggest protected areas in the congo and it is managed by the wildlife conservation society of Congo. It is set in an area of both mountainous and lowland terrain and it acts as a refuge for the rare wildlife species like the eastern lowland gorillas. This National Park is also a UNESCO world heritage site; it was inscribed in 1980 because of its unique biodiversity within the rainforest.
Geography of Kahuzi Biega National Park
The park is found in the southern province of Kivu in Bukavu town, some part of Kahuzi Biega is found in the mitumba mountain ranges within the Albertine Rift of the Great Rift Valley. However, the biggest part of Kahuzi Biega is lowland, but a small corridor of about 7.4km joins the mountainous area of eastern Congo; the mountainous area of this park covers an area of 600sq.km and the lowlands cover about 5400sq.km stretching from Bukavu town to Kisangani. The National Park is drained by the river Luka and river Lugulu which flow into the river Lualaba.
Wildlife in Kahuzi Biega
Kahuzi Biega National Park has over 136 mammals, but among all the mammals in the park, the gorillas stand out of the others. About a few years ago, this National Park had over 125 lowland gorillas, basing on the animal census in 2008. From the 1990s, there was a rapid reduction in the mountain gorilla population of Kahuzi Biega National Park. The reduction is greatly attributed to the political unrest in the country and poaching.
The National Park has other primate species that roam the eastern Congo forest. They include the eastern chimpanzees, and several red colobus monkeys, golden monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, blue monkeys, vervet monkeys, and olive baboons among others. The low land grasslands of Kahuzi Biega are grazing grounds for bush elephants, bush buffaloes, antelopes, warthogs, aquatic civets, galagos, horseshoe bats, bus squirrels, and the Rwenzori otters among others.
Plant Species / Vegetation / Flora
Kahuzi Biega National Park is a mixture of a number of vegetation types that succeed each other as the altitude and terrain changes in the park. The swamps in the Kahuzi Biega are found along with the water bodies such as river Luka, Lugulu, and river Luabala. The park has bogs, marshlands and riparian forests, found in the mountainous side of Kahuzi Biega National Park. the low lands of Kahuzi Biega, found in the western section of the park, are mainly covered with thick guineo-congolian wet equatorial rain forests. However, the eastern sector of Kahuzi Biega National Park are mountainous and covered with continuing forest vegetation of 600m to over 2600m above sea level. However, the top of the mountains in this National Park, are covered with subalpine heater, dry savannah, and patches of grasslands.
Getting to Kahuzi Biega National Park
Kahuzi Biega National Park is reached in 30km from Bukavu town over a 1:30hr by road into the National Park. The National Park can be either accessed by air or by road, from the airport in kavumu and miti you can take the left and continue until you reach the visitor at Lwiro where the park headquarters are also found.
When in this National Park, always contact the rangers in advance so that you can travel with them to the eastern border of the nation if at all it is your destination. Trekking the low land gorillas it the most interesting activity in the National Park according to the tourist reviews. Therefore, it’s good to observe the entire rule given by the rangers to avoid bad experiences from the gorillas.
You can always rely on the Congolese people for directions if at all you find any difficult to locate the park. The local people are very friendly and hospitable. The local people can help even to give you a lot of information about the gorillas and other features of the National Park. You can always add Kahuzi Biega onto your gorilla adventure in Africa i.e Virunga National Park in Congo, Rwanda at Volcanoes National Park and Bwindi impenetrable National Park.