Facts About Virunga National Park
Facts about Virunga National Park are those details that are known are little known to travellers but worth noting of this gem of African that is still unspoiled and wild. Virunga National Park, established in 1925 as a national park to protect the mountain gorillas is Africa’s oldest national park and it borders Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda, Queen Elizabeth National Park and Ruwenzori National Park of Uganda. Virunga National Park was first named Albert National Park after its founder King Albert 1 of Belgium. The park was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1979 for its biodiversity and abundant wildlife like mountain gorillas much as they have greatly reduced due to years of warfare, illegal hunting and poaching.
Virunga National Park is one of the best-selling destinations for travellers after Congo safari tours. Many travellers move the earth to visit the park to take part in activities that include among others gorilla trekking, hiking Mount Nyiragongo, chimpanzee habituation and visiting the Senkwekwe gorilla orphanage. There are some facts about Virunga National Park that are worth knowing by anyone and they include;
- Virunga National Park was first named Albert National Park after its founder King Albert 1 of Belgium.
- The first 35 years of the park had the park being well managed with poaching, illegal hunting among others being under control.
- Virunga National Park management started failing after the Democratic Republic of Congo gained its independence from Belgium in 1960.
- The park was renamed Virunga National Park from Albert National Park in 1969 by the then-president Mobutu Sese Seko, who also had the conservation of the park revived.
- Virunga National Park received a lot of funding which facilitated its conservation in the 1970s up until in the 1980s under the then-president when unrests ensued.
- Virunga National Park was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1979 for its abundant wildlife and mountain gorillas that are unique to only the Virunga Massif Area and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
- UNESCO changed the status of Virunga National Park to an endangered site as poaching and chaos from war was savagely destroying its resources and inhabitants.
- Virunga National Park has the highest death rate of park rangers in the entire world most probably. These rangers are killed by poachers and sometimes rebel groups in the park.
- Virunga National Park inhabits about a quarter of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas
- It is in Virunga National Park, only, that three ape taxa can be found say the famous and endangered mountain gorillas, Eastern chimpanzees and the eastern lowland gorillas.
- The Okapi, a zebra/giraffe species considered endangered can be found in Virunga National Park.
- Virunga, a documentary that highlighted the plight and conservation efforts of the park received an Oscar Academy Award nomination in 2015.
- The park is divided into three regions, the southern, central and northern regions
- The northern region of the park’s landscape consists of lake shores, African savannah, riverine, alpine forests and glaciers
- The southern region of the park has landscape consisting of montane tropical forests, alpine forests with old and new lava flows
- Virunga National Park’s central region has landscape that consists of marshes, riverine forests, lake shores and African savannah.
- Virunga National Park currently has oil mining taking place despite it being a protected area. It is estimated that about 80% of park land will be used for oil mining in the near future, putting the existence of the inhabitants at risk due to habitat loss.
With these facts about Virunga National Park, travellers can visit the park well knowing some of them, and enhance on their experience as well as appreciate the park more.