The Kahuzi-Biega National Park
The Kahuzi-Biega National Park is perfectly located in eastern part of Democratic Republic of the Congo along the western bank of Lake Kivu and the Rwandan frontier. The famous park was established in 1970 and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in 1980 due to its unique biodiversity of rainforest habitat and its endangered species of eastern lowland gorillas.
Spanning on 75,000ha of land, the park comprises of the Mitumba Mountain range, the western mountains of the Great Rift Valley. The two main peaks, Mount Kahuzi (3,308 m) and Mount Biéga (2,790 m) from which its derives its name from and the massif dates from the late Tertiary or early Quaternary. The lowland sector in the Zairean central basin covers the watersheds of the tributaries of the Luka and Lugulu rivers. These both drain into the River Lualaba. The extension lies below 1,500 m apart from isolated peaks such as Mount Kamani (1,700 m), and consists of mountains cut by deep valleys. Undulating terrain in the west forms a belt between the two zones.
Kahuzi-Biega National Park lying along the Albertine Rift and the Congo Basin, the park is an outstanding habitat for the protection of the rainforest and the eastern lowland gorillas, Gorilla berengei graueri. Strenching over 600,000 ha, are dense lowland rainforests as well as Afro-montane forests, with bamboo forests and some small areas of sub-alpine prairies and heather on Mounts Kahuzi (3,308 m) and Biega (2,790 m).
The Park is one of the fascinating sites of sub-Saharan Africa where the flora and fauna transition from low to highlands is observable. In effect, it includes all the stages of forest vegetation from 600 m to more than 2,600 m, dense low and middle altitude rainforests to sub-mountain to mountain and bamboo forests. Above 2,600 m at the summit of Mounts Kahuzi and Biega, sub-alpine vegetation has developed, with heather, and home to the endemic plant Senecio kahuzicus. The Park also contains plant formations, rare worldwide, such as the swamp and bog altitudes and the marshland and riparian forests on hydromorphic ground at all altitudes.
The Park has unique a flora and fauna of exceptional diversity, making it one of the most important parks in the Albertine Rift Valley region, it is also taken to be one of the ecologically richest regions of Africa and worldwide. The icon species of the park include the world endangered population of eastern lowland gorillas that thrive in the mosaic of habitats distributed in the park.
Kahuzi-Biega National Park boasts of wide-range of mammal species than any other protected area within the Albertine Rift Valley Region. It is also the second most significant protected area of the region for both endemic species and in terms of specific diversity. The Park houses an estimated 136 species of mammals, among which include the endangered eastern lowland gorilla and thirteen (13) other primates, including threatened species such as the chimpanzee, the colubus bai and cercopiuthic of Hoest and Hamlyn. Other extremely rare species of the eastern forests of the DRC are also found, such as the giant forest genet and the aquatic genet. Characteristic mammals of the central African forests also live in the Park, such as the bush elephant, bush buffalo, hylochere and bongo.
The park is also conveniently located in an important Endemic Birding Area hence its identification as birding destination by Birdlife International. The Wildlife Conservation Society established/created a comprehensive list of birds in the Park in 2003 with 349 species, including 42 endemic. Also, the Park was designated as a Centre of diversity for plants by IUCN and WWF in 1994, with at least 1,178 inventoried species in the highland zone, although the lowland yet remains to be recorded.
Tourist attractions within the park
More useful information about Kahuzi Beiga National Park