Gorillas in the Mist…
Lowland Silverback Gorilla in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
The volcanoes that border Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo are the last places in the world to see mountain gorillas. However, the Democratic Republic of Congo is the world’s last remaining place on the planet to see the huge, majestic Eastern lowland silverback gorillas (also known as Grauer’s gorillas)…if you like gorillas, you must visit the Kahuzi-Biega National Park! The park is named after the two spectacular extinct volcanoes which dominate the region: Mont Kahuzi (3,308m) and Mont Biega (2,790m) and was founded in 1939. On one side of the park there is mountain forest, and on the other side, tropical forest. In 1980, it became a World Heritage Site and in 1997 it was put on the list of World Heritage sites in danger. United Nations’ patrols have more recently limited incursions from the Mayi-Mayi and Interhamwe militias and have helped to ensure that the world’s last remaining natural habitat for Eastern lowland gorillas is reasonably intact.
I still cannot believe that I had the opportunity to visit the Kahuzi-Biega National Park and to see these magnificent animals in the wild. It meant a very early start and several hours of “hanging around” whilst the park rangers tracked one of the three ‘habituated’ gorilla groups. It took more than an hour of trekking through steep (and wet!) terrain, accompanied by three Rangers equipped with machetes to hack our way through the jungle, two Guards with AK47s and a Ranger Guide…but it was well worth the effort!
The Gorilla tracking team and me….(hubby is taking the photo!)
We were able to get within two metres of the enormous male silverback (weighing in at 2 tonnes!) and spent an incredible hour watching the whole gorilla family in the dense wilderness. An unforgettable experience!
“Big Daddy” Silverback Gorilla digging up bamboo shoots
Some of Big Daddy’s many offspring
For more information on how to visit these wonderful animals in the wild:
KBNP Office: Av. PE Lusmumba, Nyawera (facing Gallerie Bugugu), Bukavu
Tel (24/7): +243 822 881 012 / +243 971 300 881