Endangered Mountain Gorillas in Central Africa
Bill Biega's
Travel Essays
Biega Family Page
Computer Help
Special characters. Viruses, Web pages
Central Europe Cities, Countries, Info.
History Genealogy, History Essays   New!
Cities, Countries, Historical
Museum AK
Museum of Polish Home Army
Photo Gallery
Poland, Warsaw, Cracow, Salzburg, Budapest
Castle and School
Sulkowski Foundation
all over the world
Syrena Press
13 Is My Lucky Number
Story of fighter in Warsaw Uprising in WW II

In Association with
Contact us by Email

Biega - Kahuzi National Park on the eastern edge of the Democratic Republic of Congo (previously called Zaire), has nothing to do with the Biega families. But as it takes up many pages of Google references any time someone queries "Biega", it has aroused my interest. Here is a summary of the information collected from the many listed references.

map The initial 750 were established in 1970 as a nature preserve on the slopes of the two extinct volcanoes, Mt. Biega (9153ft.) and Mt. Kahuzi (10850ft.), the two highest peaks in the Mitumba Range along the west shore of Lake Kivu in the Great Rift Valley. The prime purpose of the preserve was to protect the rapidly dwindling numbers of the Giant Mountain Gorillas ( gorilla beringei) from hunters. It was here that the American zoologist Dian Fossey started her work with these endangered animals. After she was murdered by poachers in 1985, her life was documented in the film "Gorillas In The Mist", in which she was portrayed by Sigourney Weaver.

Mt. Biega Subsequently in July 1975 the park was increased to a total of 6000 by the addition of lowland equatorial forest of the Congo central basin within the watersheds of the tributaries of the Luka and Lugulu rivers and a narrow belt of mountain valleys connecting the two. One of the difficulties of maintaining this park is that it is surrounded by areas of high population density (about 500/sq.mile).
The Kahuzi-Biega park was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1980.
The International efforts, including the recruitment and training of additional forest rangers and establishment of control facilities resulted in an increase in the population of the Mountain Gorillas to about 284 in 25 families by 1990. The lowland area was home to many species including 86% of the existing lowland giant gorilla (gorilla graueri) which is related to and equally endangered as the Mountain Gorilla; some 9000 forest elephants, several other sub-species of monkeys, chimpanzees and numerous birds.
satellite view Relatively easy access from Bukavu enabled a fairly high level of closely monitored tourism to view the gorilla in their natural habitat. The tourism also provided important funds for the preservation efforts.

The genocidal war in neighboring Rwanda in 1994 caused the area to become swamped by over a million refugees. Outbreak of civil war in Zaire added to the danger. Over half the staff of the park were murdered and facilities destroyed. As a result the protected animals have suffered great losses. Tourism ceased. Considerable deforestation has occurred. To add to the problems, illicit mining of Coltan, an ore from which tantalum is derived (used in the production of cell phones), has added to the destruction of the habitat.
This park and the other four national parks in eastern Congo were inscribed on the UNESCO List of "World Heritage in Danger" in 1997.

Gorillas with infants Since 2004 there has been some improvement in the situation, although armed gangs still are a continuous danger. The United Nations have provided increased funds for rebuilding of facilities and training new rangers. Censuses are currently cataloging the surviving gorillas and other endangered species. Not only the gorillas, but also all other endangered animals in the western area, especially the forest elephants, have been devastated.
The most recent available survey in September 2010 has counted 181 Mountain Gorilla individuals, in the park. In September 2005 the main building of the German GTZ support organization in the park was destroyed by a suspicious fire. As of 2011 areas of the park were inaccessible to teams because of guerilla activities.
The United Nations Environment Programme is appealing to all manufacturers of electronic components to ensure that their supplies of Tantalum are not produced by illegal miners of Coltan in the Congo national parks.

Other Congo national parks with small populations of Mountain Gorillas:

  • Virunga N.P. - split into 3 sections, north of Kahuzi-Biega, between Lake Kivu and Lake Albert. Part of it was established in 1925!
  • Maiko N.P. - about 9000 of lowland forest and low mountains, north of Kahuzi-Biega N.P.
  • Bwindi National Park in Uganda - north of Lake Edward
Principal private organizations supporting efforts of the United Nations Environment Programme, and providing organizational and financial assistance to the local Congolese nature preservation organization which legally is the operator of Congo's national parks - ICCN (Institut Congolais Pour La Conservation De La Nature) founded in 1925, but today without any of its own resources, other than underpaid staff.

Return to Home page.
Return to Travel Index.

NOTE: The satellite photo is courtesy of Google Earth and has been captured and edited by Bill Biega to provide specific information relative to Kahuzi-Biega N.P.
The photo of Mt. Biega was taken recently by Dr. Angela Meder, a staff member of Berggorilla & Regenwald Direkthilfe.
The small photo of the gorillas with babies is a reduced version of the original that can be seen at

Kahuzi-Biega Nat. Park - 2011 report.
Berggorilla & Regenwald Direkthilfe
German organization supporting protection of gorillas.
More travel information
More history information

Please support this web-site by using the following:
This space is available for sponsored links and ads,
See details.
Return to Home Page.
Didn't find what you are looking for? Search here:

design Copyright © 2006 Syrena. All rights reserved.
Last updated: Feb. 29 2012.