Kahuzi Biega National Park

Exceptional tropical rain forest protected area that is dominated by 2 distinct volcanoes; Kahuzi and Biega where the park derived its name. It hosts several of fauna and flora of which over 250 rare Eastern Lowland gorillas form the major attractions in the park. These unique primates live within 2100 and 2400 meters above sea level. Kahuzi Biega National Park is situated south of Kivu making the only destination where Eastern Lowland gorilla trekking is conducted in DR Congo and the whole world. A UNESCO heritage site lies around Bukavu town in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Facts about Kahuzi Biega National Park

Extraordinary habitat for conservation of rainforest and the Eastern Lowland gorillas (Gorilla Beringei Graueri) in DR Congo; it spans about 6000 square kilometers and comes with intense lowland rainforests and Afro montane forests, with bamboo forests and small areas of sub alpine prairies and heather on Mount Kahuzi (3308m) and Biega (2790m). The park is a home to unique biodiversity, making it one of the most significant sites in the Rift Albertine Valley, ecologically endowed both in Africa and the world at large. Incredibly, being a home to rare eastern lowland gorillas, subspecies endemic to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and listed as endangered primates in IUCN red book data book.

Flora and fauna

Kahuzi Biega National Park also hosts variety of mammal species than any other site in the Albertine Rift. It is the second most significant area with both endemic species and its specific biodiversity. It houses over 136 mammal species of which the star is the eastern lowland gorilla safaris in DRC and 13 more Apes including the threatened like the eastern chimpanzees, colobus bai and cercopiuthic of Hoests and Hamlyn.

Other exceptional species of eastern forests of the DRC also live in the park especially the great forest genet (genetta victoriae) and aquatic genet (genetta piscivora) as well as forest elephants, bush buffaloes, lowland bongo and hylochere. Other species include the Albertine owlet, Mount Kahuzi climbing mouse (Dendromus kahuziensis), Maclaud’s horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus maclaudi), leopards and Ruwenzori otter shrew as well as olive baboons.

The park is found in an important endemism zone (Endemic Bird Area) for birds identified by Bird life International. The Wildlife Conservation Society founded a complete list of birds in 2003 with 349 species including 42 endemic. It was also designated as center of diversity for plants by IUCN and WWF in 1994 with about 1178 inventoried species in the highland zone. The notable birds include yellow crested helmet shrike (prionops alberti), Congo Peacock (Afropavo congensis), African green broadbill (Pseudocalyptomena graueri) and Rockefeller’s sunbird (Nectarinia rockefelleri0.

This amazing protected also is one of the unique sites of sub Saharan Africa where the flora and fauna ranges from low to highlands. It therefore covers all stages of forest vegetation from 600m to more than 2600m, dense low and middle altitude rain forest to sub mountain to mountain and bamboo forests. Beyond 2600m at the summit of Mount Kahuzi and Biega, sub alpine vegetation has grown up with heather and refuge to the endemic plant Senecio Kahuzicus. It also houses plant formations, unique globally especially the swamp and bog altitudes and the marshland and riparian forests on hydromorphic ground at all altitudes.

In conclusion, Kahuzi Biega National Park is one of the largest protected areas in DRC with diverse species both flora and fauna. Besides the popular mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park, Kahuzi Biega also offers visitors with dramatic wild creatures-the eastern lowland gorillas that are currently trekked only in DRC.