Virunga National Park: An Epic Mountain Gorilla Encounter
Amidst the heart of East Africa, where the jungle rhythm pulses with an ancient energy, lies this awe-inspiring natural sanctuary known as Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which is a home to the renowned Virunga Mountains.
Virunga National Park is located in the Eastern region of DRC, and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Established in 1925, Virunga National Park was the first national park in Africa and one of the first in the whole world. The park is the oldest and most biologically diverse protected areas in Africa.
The park is well known for its outstanding biodiversity, teeming with a wide range of ecosystems such as savannas, forests, wetlands and volcanic mountains. It is as well a home to an array of wildlife including the critically endangered mountain gorillas, and these are the iconic inhabitants of the park with focused conservation efforts for decades.
Apart from the awe-inspiring natural beauty and ecosystems, Virunga is renowned for its cultural heritage and epic archaeological sites that date a thousand years back.
Wildlife In the Virunga National Park
The Riverine Forest
Virunga’s flora composes of both plant and tree species (264 tree species and 230 plants) that are endemic to the Albertine Rift. The plains of the park are populated by wetlands and grasslands with papyrus sedge, jointed flat sedge, common reed, sacaton grasses, ambatch, conkerberry, paperbark thorn and kowai fruit.
The montane forest
The park’s montane forest is over 5,900 – 9,200 ft and lies in the southern sector. The forest is dominated by Ficalhoa laurifolia and Podocarpus milanjianus with trees up to 82 ft high. African alpine bamboo grows at altitudes of 7,500 – 8,500 ft. The vegetation is subalpine with foremost African redwood. Tree heath, heather and mosses cover humid slopes, Senecio and Lobelia species.
Mammals in the Virunga National Park.
Virunga is a home to primate species such as mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, golden monkeys, red-tailed monkeys and olive baboons.
Other mammals in the park include the African bush elephant, hippopotamus, Lions, African buffalo, Okapi, blue duiker, bay duiker, Weyns’s duiker, yellow-backed duiker, water chevrotain, red river hog, aardvark and bongo. Harnessed bushbuck, giant forest hog inhabits the southern sector.
The Topi can be found in the south of Lake Edward in the Ishasha Flats region, and normally cross the border into Uganda. The park is as well a home to the Ugandan Kob, waterbuck, and common warthog.
While in the northern sector of the park habors the African leopard, marsh mongoose, giant pangolin, tree pangolin, crested porcupine, Lord Derby’s scaly-tailed squirrel, Boehm’s bush squirrel, western tree hyrax, Emin’s pouched rat.
Birds in Virunga National Park
The park is home to over 700 birds species the Albertine Rift’s endemic birds, Rwenzori turaco, Rwenzori Batis, Archer’s ground robin, red-throated alethe, Kivu ground thrush, collared apalis, mountain masked apalis, dusky crimson-wing, red-faced woodland warbler, stripe-breasted tit, blue-headed sunbird, regal sunbird, Rwenzori double-collared sunbird, handsome spurfowl and strange weaver.