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Virunga National Park

Virunga National Park is a national park in the Albertine Rift Valley in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It was created in 1925 and is among the first protected areas in Africa. In elevation, it ranges from 680 m (2,230 ft) in the Semliki River valley to 5,109 m (16,762 ft) in the Rwenzori Mountains. From north to south it extends approximately 300 km (190 mi), largely along the international borders with Uganda and Rwanda in the east. It covers an area of 8,090 km2 (3,120 sq mi).

Virunga National Park
French: Parc National des Virunga
LocationDemocratic Republic of the Congo
Nearest cityGoma
Coordinates0°55′S29°10′E /0.917°S 29.167°E /-0.917; 29.167Coordinates: 0°55′S29°10′E /0.917°S 29.167°E /-0.917; 29.167
Area7,768.93 km2 (2,999.60 sq mi)
EstablishedApril 1925 (1925-04)
Governing bodyInstitut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature
Websitevirunga.org
CriteriaNatural: (vii), (viii), (x)
Reference63
Inscription1979 (3rd Session)
Endangered1994–...
Official nameParc National des Virunga
Designated18 January 1996
Reference no.787

Two active volcanoes are located in the park, Mount Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira. They have significantly shaped the national park's diverse habitats and wildlife. More than 3,000 faunal and floral species have been recorded, of which more than 300 are endemic to the Albertine Rift including eastern gorilla (Gorilla beringei) and golden monkey (Cercopithecus kandti).

In 1979, the National Park was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its rich diversity of habitats, exceptional biodiversity and endemism, and its protection of rare mountain gorilla habitat. It has been listed in the List of World Heritage in Danger since 1994 because of civil unrest and the increase of human presence in the region.

There have been several deadly attacks in the park by rebel groups, and several park rangers have been killed.

Contents

In the early 1920s, several proponents of the European conservation movement championed the idea of creating a protected area in northeastern Belgian Congo, among them Victor van Straelen, Jean Massart and Jean-Marie Derscheid. When Albert National Park was established in April 1925 as Africa's first national park, it was conceived as a science-oriented nature reserve with the aim of studying and preserving wildlife and so-called 'primitive' hunter-gatherer African Pygmies. In 1926, Derscheid headed the first Belgian mission to cartograph Albert National Park, which encompassed an area of 500 km2 (190 sq mi) around the extinct volcanoes Mount Karisimbi and Mount Mikeno. The protected area was extended in 1929 by Virunga National Park, which encompassed the Virunga Mountains, parts of the Rutshuru Territory, and the plains south of Lake Edward. Its initial size of 2,920.98 km2 (1,127.80 sq mi) was enlarged step by step in subsequent years. Indigenous people lost their traditional land rights in this process, and were evicted from the protected area. Between the late 1930s and 1955, an estimated 85,000 Rwandophone people were moved to nearby Masisi in North Kivu.

In 1934, the Institut des Parcs Nationaux du Congo Belge was founded as the governing body for national parks in the Belgian Congo. Between the early 1930s and 1961, several expeditions to Albert National Park were carried out by Belgian scientists, the second headed by Gaston-François de Witte. They studied and collected zoological specimens of wildlife for the Musée Royal d'Histoire Naturelle de Belgique; explored the ethnic groups in this area; studied volcanic activity, and fossils.

In the late 1950s, Tutsi herders and their cattle entered the park, destroying natural habitat up to an altitude of 3,000 m (9,800 ft), which was thought to threaten the park's gorillas.

Land laws were reformed in the 1960s after Belgian Congo became independent as the Republic of the Congo, and the land declared property of the state, much to the disadvantage of local people. Illegal hunting inside protected areas increased. In 1969, the two parks were merged under the name Virunga National Park, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.

In 1996, the national park was listed as a Ramsar site of international importance.

In 2011, the British company Soco International was granted a concession for extracting crude oil in the surroundings of and in large parts of the national park. Government officials supported exploration activities by Soco International mission members, whereas park management opposed. In the course of increasing tensions, the park's chief warden, Emmanuel de Mérode, was assailed in April 2014. Following international protests, the company stopped exploring activities and consented to refrain from starting similar operations in the vicinity of World Heritage sites.

By 2016, four hydropower dams were constructed that provide electricity to small businesses and benefit more than 200,000 rural people.

Armed conflict

Since the early 1990s, the protected area was impacted by political turmoil in the African Great Lakes region. Following the Rwandan genocide, thousands of refugees fled to the Kivu region, and the presence of military increased. The First and Second Congo Wars further destabilised the region. Anti-poaching patrols inside the park were obstructed, and park personnel and wildlife were killed. About 850,000 refugees lived around the national park in 1994. Up to 40,000 people entered the park daily in search of firewood and food, and deforested huge areas. In 1994, Virunga National Park was entered into the List of World Heritage in Danger.

After the Second Congo War was over, confrontations between park personnel and rebel groups continued; 80 park staff were killed between 1996 and 2003. Several armed rebel groups operate in the park, including Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda and National Congress for the Defence of the People (FDLR). Latter controlled the Mikeno sector of Virunga National Park between December 2006 and January 2009.

In 2005, the European Commission (EC) recommended a public-private partnership between the country's government and the British non-governmental organisation African Conservation Fund. The latter organisation is responsible for park management since 2010; about 80% of management costs are subsidised by the EC. Park protection efforts were militarised in the following years to deter armed rebel groups and poachers from operating inside the park. Park personnel are given paramilitary training and high-quality weaponry, and operate together with the military and state security services.

These tactics, criticised as "militarization of conservation", has been blamed for further violence and dispossession faced by local indigenous people. Communities, such as the Mbuti, which previously relied on the lands included in the park for food and shelter have been forced out, or risk being arrested or killed by armed park rangers.

Increasing militarisation of nature conservation has been accused of fuelling armed mobilisation of militias. The inhabitants inside the national park, whether native or refugees, rely on farming, hunting, fishing, logging and producing charcoal for their livelihoods, all prohibited activities. The local community has no where else to turn for security, and relies on the protection of armed groups, for which fees are levied off the prohibited activities. According to a 2010 report by the United Nations Security Council, 80% of the charcoal consumed by the city of Goma is sourced from the park, representing an annual value of US$28–30 million. Both state security services and such groups also resort to armed robberies and kidnapping for income.

Efforts at nature conservation has had contradictory effects, for example when farms were destroyed within Kibirizi, and soldiers and park guards were sent in to patrol, people migrated even further within the park to land controlled by the FDLR, where they could rent small plots of land. The local community has developed negative feeling towards park personnel and the military. Clashes occurred in 2015 when a local Mai-Mai group in Binza (north Bwisha) attempted to take back control of region, with the objective of reinstalling fishing activities and allowing the population to return, killing a park guard and 11-15 soldiers.

Five rangers were killed in August 2017 near Lake Edward in a militia attack. Five rangers and a driver were killed in April 2018. Since beginning of the armed conflict, armed groups killed 175 park rangers until April 2018. In May 2018, a ranger was killed when defending two tourists who were kidnapped. They were subsequently released unharmed. As a consequence, the park remained closed to visitors from June 2018 until February 2019.

In April 2020 at least 12 park rangers were killed by militia men attacking a civilian convoy. Again in January 2021, armed men killed at least six rangers and wounded several others in an ambush in the national park.

On 22 February 2021, Italy's ambassador to the DRC who was travelling with the World Food Programme about 15km north of Goma, Luca Attanasio, as well as Italian military police officer Vittorio Iacovacci and Congolese driver Moustapha Milambo, were killed in the gunfire when a militia that had kidnapped their convoy, and had brought them into the park, was met by park rangers who managed to free four people.

Rwenzori Mountains
Hills around Lake Edward
Landscapes in Virunga National Park

Virunga National Park is located in the CongoNile watershed area. Its northern sector encompasses part of the Semliki River basin, as well as savanna and montane forest of the Albertine Rift. In altitude, this sector ranges from 680 m (2,230 ft) in the Puemba River valley to the highest peak of Mount Stanley at 5,109 m (16,762 ft) within 30 km (19 mi). The national park's central sector encompasses about two thirds of Lake Edward up to the international border with Uganda in the east. A narrow corridor of 3–5 km (1.9–3.1 mi) width along the lake's western bank connects the northern and southern sectors of the national park. The southern sector stretches to the shores of Lake Kivu and encompasses Nyamulagira, Nyiragongo and Mikeno volcanoes with montane forests on their slopes.

The northern sector of Virunga National Park is contiguous with Uganda's Semuliki park, the Rwenzori Mountains National Park, and the central sector with Queen Elizabeth National Park. The southern sector borders Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park.

Climate

The climate in the Albertine Rift is influenced by the movement of the Intertropical Convergence Zone and the El Niño–Southern Oscillation. March to mid May and September to November are the main rainy seasons. Mean monthly rainfall in the savanna around Lake Edward is 30–40 mm (1.2–1.6 in); this is the driest part of the landscape. The northern sector receives a monthly mean precipitation of up to 220 mm (8.7 in), and the southern sector of up to 160 mm (6.3 in). Average temperatures in lower altitudes vary from 23–28 °C (73–82 °F), and in higher altitudes from 16–24 °C (61–75 °F), rarely dropping below 14 °C (57 °F).

Riverine forest
Primary tropical forest
Habitats in Virunga National Park

Virunga National Park's flora encompasses 2,077 plant species, including 264 tree species and 230 plants that are endemic to the Albertine Rift. The plains of Virunga National Park are dominated by wetlands and grasslands with papyrus sedge (Cyperus papyrus), jointed flatsedge (C. articulatus), common reed (Phragmites mauritanica), sacaton grasses (Sporobolus consimilis), ambatch (Aeschynomene elaphroxylon), conkerberry (Carissa spinarum), paperbark thorn (Vachellia sieberiana) and kowai fruit (Coccinia grandis). Remains of dicots such as African caper (Capparis tomentosa), Maerua species, wild cucurbits, and nightshades were found in dung balls of African elephants (Loxodonta) that play a significant role for seed dispersal in the grasslands.

The montane forest between 1,800 and 2,800 m (5,900 and 9,200 ft) in the southern sector is dominated by Ficalhoa laurifolia and Podocarpus milanjianus with up to 25 m (82 ft) high trees. African alpine bamboo (Yushania alpina) grows at altitudes of 2,300–2,600 m (7,500–8,500 ft). The vegetation above 2,600 m (8,500 ft) is subalpine with foremost African redwood (Hagenia abyssinica) growing up to 3,000 m (9,800 ft). Tree heath (Erica arborea), heather and mosses cover humid slopes up to 3,700 m (12,100 ft) elevation. Senecio and Lobelia species grow on vast clearings and attain heights of up to 8 m (26 ft).

Mammals photographed in Virunga National Park
Mountain gorilla
African bush elephant and African buffaloes
Ugandan kob
Lions

Virunga National Park's faunal species include 196 mammals, 706 bird species, 109 reptiles and 65 amphibians as of 2012.

Mammals

Primates present in the national park include mountain gorilla (G. b. beringei), common chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes), golden monkey, red-tailed monkey (Cercopithecus ascanius), Dent's mona monkey (C. denti), blue monkey (C. mitis), Hamlyn's monkey (C. hamlyni), De Brazza's monkey (C. neglectus), Central African red colobus (Procolobus foai), mantled guereza (Colobus guereza), olive baboon (Papio anubis) and grey-cheeked mangabey (Lophocebus albigena).

African bush elephant (Loxodonta africana), hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) and African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) inhabit the national park's central sector.Okapi (Okapia johnstoni), blue duiker (Philantomba monticola), bay duiker (Cephalophus dorsalis), Weyns's duiker (C. weynsi), yellow-backed duiker (C. silvicultor), water chevrotain (Hyemoschus aquaticus), red river hog (Potamochoerus porcus), aardvark (Orycteropus afer) and bongo (Tragelaphus eurycerus) were recorded in the northern sector in 2008.Harnessed bushbuck (T. scriptus) and giant forest hog (Hylochoerus meinertzhageni) are present in the southern sector. All of the topi (Damaliscus lunatus jimela) cluster to the south of Lake Edward in the Ishasha Flats region, and regularly cross the border into Uganda. Other ungulates present include Ugandan kob (Kobus kob thomasi), waterbuck (K. ellipsiprymnus), and common warthog (Phacochoerus africanus).

Virunga National Park together with the adjacent Queen Elizabeth National Park forms a 'Lion Conservation Unit'. The area is considered a potential lion (Panthera leo) stronghold, if poaching is curbed and prey species recover. In the national park's northern sector, African leopard (P. pardus pardus), marsh mongoose (Atilax paludinosus), giant pangolin (Smutsia gigantea), tree pangolin (Phataginus tricuspis), crested porcupine (Hystrix cristata), Lord Derby's scaly-tailed squirrel (Anomalurus derbianus), Boehm's bush squirrel (Paraxerus boehmi), western tree hyrax (Dendrohyrax dorsalis), Emin's pouched rat (Cricetomys emini) and checkered elephant shrew (Rhynchocyon cirnei) were recorded during surveys in 2008.

Reptiles

The Semliki River provides habitat for Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus). Several were observed at the northern shore of Lake Edwards in 1988 for the first time.

Birds

Of 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, Shelley's crimsonwing, red-faced woodland warbler, stripe-breasted tit, blue-headed sunbird, regal sunbird, Rwenzori double-collared sunbird, handsome spurfowl and strange weaver were recorded in Virunga National Park's southern sector during surveys in 2004. Non-endemic birds recorded include Wahlberg's eagle, African goshawk, African hobby, harrier hawk, common buzzard, mountain buzzard, hadeda ibis, grey-crowned crane, black-and-white-casqued hornbill, black-billed turaco, African olive pigeon, tambourine dove, blue-spotted wood dove, red-eyed dove, brown-necked parrot, red-chested cuckoo, olive long-tailed cuckoo, barred long-tailed cuckoo, Klaas's cuckoo, Diederik cuckoo, blue-headed coucal, Narina trogon, white-headed wood hoopoe, white-necked raven, white-tailed crested flycatcher, African paradise flycatcher, white-eyed slaty flycatcher, African dusky flycatcher, white-tailed blue flycatcher, mountain oriole, speckled mousebird, cinnamon-chested bee-eater, grey-throated barbet, yellow-billed barbet, western tinkerbird, yellow-rumped tinkerbird, cardinal woodpecker, olive woodpecker, black saw-wing, Angolan swallow, Alpine swift, mountain greenbul, yellow-whiskered greenbul, common bulbul, white-starred robin, Archer's ground robin, white-browed robin-chat, stonechat, rufous thrush, African thrush, olive thrush, grassland pipit, cinnamon bracken warbler, black-faced rufous warbler, mountain yellow warbler, brown woodland warbler, green sandpiper, Chubb's cisticola, banded prinia, chestnut-throated apalis, grey-backed camaroptera, white-browed crombec, black-throated wattle-eye, chinspot batis, mountain illadopsis, grey-chested illadopsis, olive sunbird, bronze sunbird, malachite sunbird, collared sunbird, variable sunbird, yellow white-eye, Mackinnon's shrike, Doherty's bushshrike, Lühder's bushshrike, northern puffback, mountain sooty boubou, tropical boubou, narrow-tailed starling, Sharpe's starling, baglafecht weaver, black bishop, grey-headed negrofinch, common waxbill, black-headed waxbill, bronze mannikin, black and white mannikin, pin-tailed whydah, African citril, streaky seedeater and thick-billed seedeater.

Children around a health care centre
Settlements at the edge of the Nyiragongo crater
Ethnic groups in and around Virunga National Park

Ethnic groups living in and around Virunga National Park include:

The documentary Virunga documents the work of Virunga National Park rangers and the activities of British oil company Soco International within the park. Ndakasi, a gorilla from the park, was featured in a few television series and movies, including the Netflix documentary.

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  59. Bella, T. (2021). "Ndakasi, Beloved Mountain Gorilla of Photobomb Fame, dies". Washington Post.
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Virunga National Park
Virunga National Park Language Watch Edit Virunga National Park is a national park in the Albertine Rift Valley in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo It was created in 1925 and is among the first protected areas in Africa 4 In elevation it ranges from 680 m 2 230 ft in the Semliki River valley to 5 109 m 16 762 ft in the Rwenzori Mountains From north to south it extends approximately 300 km 190 mi largely along the international borders with Uganda and Rwanda in the east 2 It covers an area of 8 090 km2 3 120 sq mi Virunga National ParkFrench Parc National des VirungaIUCN category II national park 1 LocationDemocratic Republic of the CongoNearest cityGomaCoordinates0 55 S 29 10 E 0 917 S 29 167 E 0 917 29 167 Coordinates 0 55 S 29 10 E 0 917 S 29 167 E 0 917 29 167Area7 768 93 km2 2 999 60 sq mi 1 EstablishedApril 1925 1925 04 Governing bodyInstitut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature 2 Websitevirunga wbr orgUNESCO World Heritage SiteCriteriaNatural vii viii x Reference63Inscription1979 3rd Session Endangered1994 Ramsar WetlandOfficial nameParc National des VirungaDesignated18 January 1996Reference no 787 3 Two active volcanoes are located in the park Mount Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira 5 They have significantly shaped the national park s diverse habitats and wildlife More than 3 000 faunal and floral species have been recorded of which more than 300 are endemic to the Albertine Rift including eastern gorilla Gorilla beringei and golden monkey Cercopithecus kandti 6 In 1979 the National Park was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its rich diversity of habitats exceptional biodiversity and endemism and its protection of rare mountain gorilla habitat 7 It has been listed in the List of World Heritage in Danger since 1994 because of civil unrest and the increase of human presence in the region 8 There have been several deadly attacks in the park by rebel groups and several park rangers have been killed 9 10 Contents 1 History 1 1 Armed conflict 2 Geography 2 1 Climate 3 Flora 4 Fauna 4 1 Mammals 4 2 Reptiles 4 3 Birds 5 Ethnic groups 6 Media coverage 7 See also 8 References 9 External linksHistory EditIn the early 1920s several proponents of the European conservation movement championed the idea of creating a protected area in northeastern Belgian Congo among them Victor van Straelen Jean Massart and Jean Marie Derscheid When Albert National Park was established in April 1925 as Africa s first national park it was conceived as a science oriented nature reserve with the aim of studying and preserving wildlife and so called primitive hunter gatherer African Pygmies In 1926 Derscheid headed the first Belgian mission to cartograph Albert National Park which encompassed an area of 500 km2 190 sq mi around the extinct volcanoes Mount Karisimbi and Mount Mikeno The protected area was extended in 1929 by Virunga National Park which encompassed the Virunga Mountains parts of the Rutshuru Territory and the plains south of Lake Edward Its initial size of 2 920 98 km2 1 127 80 sq mi was enlarged step by step in subsequent years 11 12 13 14 Indigenous people lost their traditional land rights in this process and were evicted from the protected area 13 15 Between the late 1930s and 1955 an estimated 85 000 Rwandophone people were moved to nearby Masisi in North Kivu 16 In 1934 the Institut des Parcs Nationaux du Congo Belge was founded as the governing body for national parks in the Belgian Congo 11 Between the early 1930s and 1961 several expeditions to Albert National Park were carried out by Belgian scientists the second headed by Gaston Francois de Witte They studied and collected zoological specimens of wildlife for the Musee Royal d Histoire Naturelle de Belgique 17 18 explored the ethnic groups in this area 19 studied volcanic activity 20 and fossils 21 In the late 1950s Tutsi herders and their cattle entered the park destroying natural habitat up to an altitude of 3 000 m 9 800 ft which was thought to threaten the park s gorillas 22 Land laws were reformed in the 1960s after Belgian Congo became independent as the Republic of the Congo and the land declared property of the state much to the disadvantage of local people Illegal hunting inside protected areas increased 15 In 1969 the two parks were merged under the name Virunga National Park which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979 2 In 1996 the national park was listed as a Ramsar site of international importance 2 In 2011 the British company Soco International was granted a concession for extracting crude oil in the surroundings of and in large parts of the national park Government officials supported exploration activities by Soco International mission members whereas park management opposed In the course of increasing tensions the park s chief warden Emmanuel de Merode was assailed in April 2014 23 Following international protests the company stopped exploring activities and consented to refrain from starting similar operations in the vicinity of World Heritage sites 24 25 26 27 By 2016 four hydropower dams were constructed that provide electricity to small businesses and benefit more than 200 000 rural people 28 Armed conflict Edit Since the early 1990s the protected area was impacted by political turmoil in the African Great Lakes region Following the Rwandan genocide thousands of refugees fled to the Kivu region and the presence of military increased The First and Second Congo Wars further destabilised the region Anti poaching patrols inside the park were obstructed and park personnel and wildlife were killed 8 About 850 000 refugees lived around the national park in 1994 Up to 40 000 people entered the park daily in search of firewood and food and deforested huge areas 29 In 1994 Virunga National Park was entered into the List of World Heritage in Danger 8 After the Second Congo War was over confrontations between park personnel and rebel groups continued 80 park staff were killed between 1996 and 2003 29 Several armed rebel groups operate in the park including Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda and National Congress for the Defence of the People FDLR 2 Latter controlled the Mikeno sector of Virunga National Park between December 2006 and January 2009 30 In 2005 the European Commission EC recommended a public private partnership between the country s government and the British non governmental organisation African Conservation Fund The latter organisation is responsible for park management since 2010 about 80 of management costs are subsidised by the EC Park protection efforts were militarised in the following years to deter armed rebel groups and poachers from operating inside the park 23 Park personnel are given paramilitary training and high quality weaponry and operate together with the military and state security services 31 These tactics criticised as militarization of conservation has been blamed for further violence and dispossession faced by local indigenous people Communities such as the Mbuti which previously relied on the lands included in the park for food and shelter have been forced out or risk being arrested or killed by armed park rangers 32 Increasing militarisation of nature conservation has been accused of fuelling armed mobilisation of militias The inhabitants inside the national park whether native or refugees rely on farming hunting fishing logging and producing charcoal for their livelihoods all prohibited activities The local community has no where else to turn for security and relies on the protection of armed groups for which fees are levied off the prohibited activities According to a 2010 report by the United Nations Security Council 80 of the charcoal consumed by the city of Goma is sourced from the park representing an annual value of US 28 30 million Both state security services and such groups also resort to armed robberies and kidnapping for income 31 Efforts at nature conservation has had contradictory effects for example when farms were destroyed within Kibirizi and soldiers and park guards were sent in to patrol people migrated even further within the park to land controlled by the FDLR where they could rent small plots of land The local community has developed negative feeling towards park personnel and the military Clashes occurred in 2015 when a local Mai Mai group in Binza north Bwisha attempted to take back control of region with the objective of reinstalling fishing activities and allowing the population to return killing a park guard and 11 15 soldiers 31 Five rangers were killed in August 2017 near Lake Edward in a militia attack Five rangers and a driver were killed in April 2018 33 Since beginning of the armed conflict armed groups killed 175 park rangers until April 2018 34 In May 2018 a ranger was killed when defending two tourists who were kidnapped 9 They were subsequently released unharmed As a consequence the park remained closed to visitors from June 2018 35 until February 2019 36 In April 2020 at least 12 park rangers were killed by militia men attacking a civilian convoy 37 Again in January 2021 armed men killed at least six rangers and wounded several others in an ambush in the national park 38 39 On 22 February 2021 Italy s ambassador to the DRC who was travelling with the World Food Programme about 15km north of Goma Luca Attanasio as well as Italian military police officer Vittorio Iacovacci and Congolese driver Moustapha Milambo were killed in the gunfire when a militia that had kidnapped their convoy and had brought them into the park was met by park rangers who managed to free four people 40 Geography Edit Rwenzori Mountains Hills around Lake EdwardLandscapes in Virunga National Park Virunga National Park is located in the Congo Nile watershed area Its northern sector encompasses part of the Semliki River basin as well as savanna and montane forest of the Albertine Rift 4 In altitude this sector ranges from 680 m 2 230 ft in the Puemba River valley to the highest peak of Mount Stanley at 5 109 m 16 762 ft within 30 km 19 mi The national park s central sector encompasses about two thirds of Lake Edward up to the international border with Uganda in the east A narrow corridor of 3 5 km 1 9 3 1 mi width along the lake s western bank connects the northern and southern sectors of the national park The southern sector stretches to the shores of Lake Kivu and encompasses Nyamulagira Nyiragongo and Mikeno volcanoes with montane forests on their slopes 2 The northern sector of Virunga National Park is contiguous with Uganda s Semuliki park the Rwenzori Mountains National Park and the central sector with Queen Elizabeth National Park The southern sector borders Rwanda s Volcanoes National Park 41 Climate Edit The climate in the Albertine Rift is influenced by the movement of the Intertropical Convergence Zone and the El Nino Southern Oscillation March to mid May and September to November are the main rainy seasons 42 Mean monthly rainfall in the savanna around Lake Edward is 30 40 mm 1 2 1 6 in this is the driest part of the landscape The northern sector receives a monthly mean precipitation of up to 220 mm 8 7 in and the southern sector of up to 160 mm 6 3 in 41 Average temperatures in lower altitudes vary from 23 28 C 73 82 F and in higher altitudes from 16 24 C 61 75 F rarely dropping below 14 C 57 F 12 Flora Edit Riverine forest Primary tropical forestHabitats in Virunga National Park Virunga National Park s flora encompasses 2 077 plant species including 264 tree species and 230 plants that are endemic to the Albertine Rift 6 The plains of Virunga National Park are dominated by wetlands and grasslands with papyrus sedge Cyperus papyrus jointed flatsedge C articulatus common reed Phragmites mauritanica sacaton grasses Sporobolus consimilis ambatch Aeschynomene elaphroxylon conkerberry Carissa spinarum paperbark thorn Vachellia sieberiana and kowai fruit Coccinia grandis 3 43 Remains of dicots such as African caper Capparis tomentosa Maerua species wild cucurbits and nightshades were found in dung balls of African elephants Loxodonta that play a significant role for seed dispersal in the grasslands 44 The montane forest between 1 800 and 2 800 m 5 900 and 9 200 ft in the southern sector is dominated by Ficalhoa laurifolia and Podocarpus milanjianus with up to 25 m 82 ft high trees African alpine bamboo Yushania alpina grows at altitudes of 2 300 2 600 m 7 500 8 500 ft The vegetation above 2 600 m 8 500 ft is subalpine with foremost African redwood Hagenia abyssinica growing up to 3 000 m 9 800 ft Tree heath Erica arborea heather and mosses cover humid slopes up to 3 700 m 12 100 ft elevation Senecio and Lobelia species grow on vast clearings and attain heights of up to 8 m 26 ft 12 Fauna EditMammals photographed in Virunga National Park Mountain gorilla African bush elephant and African buffaloes Ugandan kob Lions Virunga National Park s faunal species include 196 mammals 706 bird species 109 reptiles and 65 amphibians as of 2012 6 Mammals Edit Primates present in the national park include mountain gorilla G b beringei common chimpanzee Pan troglodytes golden monkey red tailed monkey Cercopithecus ascanius Dent s mona monkey C denti blue monkey C mitis Hamlyn s monkey C hamlyni De Brazza s monkey C neglectus Central African red colobus Procolobus foai mantled guereza Colobus guereza olive baboon Papio anubis and grey cheeked mangabey Lophocebus albigena 6 18 45 46 African bush elephant Loxodonta africana hippopotamus Hippopotamus amphibius and African buffalo Syncerus caffer inhabit the national park s central sector 43 Okapi Okapia johnstoni blue duiker Philantomba monticola bay duiker Cephalophus dorsalis Weyns s duiker C weynsi yellow backed duiker C silvicultor water chevrotain Hyemoschus aquaticus red river hog Potamochoerus porcus aardvark Orycteropus afer and bongo Tragelaphus eurycerus were recorded in the northern sector in 2008 46 Harnessed bushbuck T scriptus and giant forest hog Hylochoerus meinertzhageni are present in the southern sector 45 All of the topi Damaliscus lunatus jimela cluster to the south of Lake Edward in the Ishasha Flats region and regularly cross the border into Uganda 47 48 49 Other ungulates present include Ugandan kob Kobus kob thomasi waterbuck K ellipsiprymnus and common warthog Phacochoerus africanus 41 50 Virunga National Park together with the adjacent Queen Elizabeth National Park forms a Lion Conservation Unit 51 The area is considered a potential lion Panthera leo stronghold if poaching is curbed and prey species recover 50 In the national park s northern sector African leopard P pardus pardus marsh mongoose Atilax paludinosus giant pangolin Smutsia gigantea tree pangolin Phataginus tricuspis crested porcupine Hystrix cristata Lord Derby s scaly tailed squirrel Anomalurus derbianus Boehm s bush squirrel Paraxerus boehmi western tree hyrax Dendrohyrax dorsalis Emin s pouched rat Cricetomys emini and checkered elephant shrew Rhynchocyon cirnei were recorded during surveys in 2008 46 Reptiles Edit The Semliki River provides habitat for Nile crocodile Crocodylus niloticus Several were observed at the northern shore of Lake Edwards in 1988 for the first time 52 Birds Edit Of 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 Shelley s crimsonwing red faced woodland warbler stripe breasted tit blue headed sunbird regal sunbird Rwenzori double collared sunbird handsome spurfowl and strange weaver were recorded in Virunga National Park s southern sector during surveys in 2004 Non endemic birds recorded include Wahlberg s eagle African goshawk African hobby harrier hawk common buzzard mountain buzzard hadeda ibis grey crowned crane black and white casqued hornbill black billed turaco African olive pigeon tambourine dove blue spotted wood dove red eyed dove brown necked parrot red chested cuckoo olive long tailed cuckoo barred long tailed cuckoo Klaas s cuckoo Diederik cuckoo blue headed coucal Narina trogon white headed wood hoopoe white necked raven white tailed crested flycatcher African paradise flycatcher white eyed slaty flycatcher African dusky flycatcher white tailed blue flycatcher mountain oriole speckled mousebird cinnamon chested bee eater grey throated barbet yellow billed barbet western tinkerbird yellow rumped tinkerbird cardinal woodpecker olive woodpecker black saw wing Angolan swallow Alpine swift mountain greenbul yellow whiskered greenbul common bulbul white starred robin Archer s ground robin white browed robin chat stonechat rufous thrush African thrush olive thrush grassland pipit cinnamon bracken warbler black faced rufous warbler mountain yellow warbler brown woodland warbler green sandpiper Chubb s cisticola banded prinia chestnut throated apalis grey backed camaroptera white browed crombec black throated wattle eye chinspot batis mountain illadopsis grey chested illadopsis olive sunbird bronze sunbird malachite sunbird collared sunbird variable sunbird yellow white eye Mackinnon s shrike Doherty s bushshrike Luhder s bushshrike northern puffback mountain sooty boubou tropical boubou narrow tailed starling Sharpe s starling baglafecht weaver black bishop grey headed negrofinch common waxbill black headed waxbill bronze mannikin black and white mannikin pin tailed whydah African citril streaky seedeater and thick billed seedeater 53 Ethnic groups Edit Children around a health care centre Settlements at the edge of the Nyiragongo craterEthnic groups in and around Virunga National Park Ethnic groups living in and around Virunga National Park include Mbuti people 19 13 54 Hutu people 13 Tutsi people 13 Basongora 49 55 56 Media coverage EditThe documentary Virunga documents the work of Virunga National Park rangers and the activities of British oil company Soco International within the park 57 58 Ndakasi a gorilla from the park was featured in a few television series and movies including the Netflix documentary 59 See also EditList of birds of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Deforestation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Centre National d Appui au Developpement et a la Participation populaire Tourism in the Democratic Republic of the Congo iGorilla Augustin Kambale Eugene Rutagarama Virunga film References Edit a b World Database on Protected Areas 2018 Virunga National Park Protected Planet United Nations Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre Retrieved 17 December 2019 a b c d e f Crawford A amp Bernstein J 2008 MEAs Conservation and Conflict A case study of Virunga National Park DRC Geneva International Institute for Sustainable Development a b Secretariat General a l Environnement et Conservation de la Nature 1994 Parc national des Virunga Ramsar Sites Information Service Retrieved 25 April 2018 a b Mubalama L amp Mushenzi N 2004 Monitoring law enforcement and illegal activities in the northern sector of the Parc National des Virunga Democratic Republic of Congo Pachyderm 36 16 29 Tedesco D 2002 1995 Nyiragongo and Nyamulagira activity in the Virunga National Park A volcanic crisis Acta Vulcanologica 14 1 2 149 155 a b c d Plumptre A J Davenport T R Behangana M Kityo R Eilu G Ssegawa P Ewango C Meirte D Kahindo C Herremans M amp Peterhans J K 2007 The biodiversity of the Albertine Rift Biological Conservation 134 2 178 194 doi 10 1016 j biocon 2006 08 021 Virunga National Park UNESCO World Heritage Centre United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization a b c Debonnet G amp Hillman Smith K 2004 Supporting protected areas in a time of political turmoil the case of World Heritage Sites in the Democratic Republic of Congo Parks 14 1 9 16 a b Actman J 2018 Virunga National Park Sees Its Worst Violence in a Decade Director Says National Geographic News Retrieved 27 April 2020 Twelve rangers killed in latest Virunga Park incident Mongabay Environmental News 2020 Retrieved 27 April 2020 a b Harroy J P 1993 Contribution a l histoire jusque 1934 de la creation de l Institut des parcs nationaux du Congo belge Civilisations Revue internationale d anthropologie et de sciences humaines 41 41 427 442 doi 10 4000 civilisations 1732 a b c Bashonga M G 2012 Etude socio economique et culturelle attitude et perceptions des communautes Twa pygmees autour du secteur Mikeno du Parc National des Virunga Goma Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature a b c d e De Bont R 2015 Primitives and Protected Areas International Conservation and the Naturalization of Indigenous People ca 1910 1975 Journal of the History of Ideas 76 2 215 236 doi 10 1353 jhi 2015 0014 PMID 25937035 S2CID 34459737 De Bont R 2017 A World Laboratory Framing the Albert National Park Environmental History 22 3 404 432 doi 10 1093 envhis emx020 a b Inogwabini B I 2014 Conserving biodiversity in the Democratic Republic of Congo a brief history current trends and insights for the future Parks 20 2 101 110 doi 10 2305 iucn ch 2014 parks 20 2 bi en Stephen J 2007 Of Doubtful Nationality Political Manipulation of Citizenship in the D R Congo Citizenship Studies 11 5 481 500 doi 10 1080 13621020701605792 S2CID 144902646 Schouteden H 1938 Exploration du Parc National Albert Oiseaux PDF Bruxelles Institut des Parcs Nationaux du Congo Belge a b Frechkop S 1943 Exploration du Parc National Albert Mammiferes PDF Bruxelles Institut des Parcs Nationaux du Congo Belge a b Schumacher P 1943 Die Kivu Pygmaen und ihre soziale Umwelt im Albert National Park PDF Bruxelles Institut des Parcs Nationaux du Congo Belge Verhoogen J 1948 Les eruptions 1938 1940 du volcan Nyamuragira PDF Bruxelles Institut des Parcs Nationaux du Congo Belge de Heinzelin de Braucourt J 1961 Le paleolithique aux abords d Ishango PDF Bruxelles Institut des Parcs Nationaux du Congo Belge Dart R A 1960 The urgency of international intervention for the preservation of the mountain gorilla South African Journal of Science 56 4 85 87 a b Marijnen E 2018 Public Authority and Conservation in Areas of Armed Conflict Virunga National Park as a State within a State in Eastern Congo Development and Change 49 3 790 814 doi 10 1111 dech 12380 Nkongolo J K 2015 International solidarity and permanent sovereignty over natural resources antagonism or peaceful coexistence The case of oil in the Virunga National Park African Journal of Democracy and Governance 2 3 4 77 98 Verheyen E 2016 Oil extraction imperils Africa s Great Lakes Science 354 6312 561 562 Bibcode 2016Sci 354 561V doi 10 1126 science aal1722 hdl 1942 23763 PMID 27811261 S2CID 13338009 Hochleithner S 2017 Beyond Contesting Limits Land Access and Resistance at the Virunga National Park Conservation and Society 15 1 100 110 doi 10 4103 0972 4923 201397 Kumpel N F Hatchwell M Clausen A Some L Gibbons O amp Field A 2018 Sustainable development at natural World Heritage sites in Africa In Moukala E amp Odiaua I eds World Heritage for Sustainable Development in Africa Paris United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization pp 51 61 Odiaua I amp Moukala E 2018 Engaging World Heritage to drive sustainable development in Africa next steps In Moukala E amp Odiaua I eds World Heritage for Sustainable Development in Africa Paris United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization pp 251 277 a b McNeely J A 2003 Conserving forest biodiversity in times of violent conflict Oryx 37 2 142 152 doi 10 1017 S0030605303000334 Refisch J amp Jenson J 2016 Transboundary collaboration in the Greater Virunga Landscape From gorilla conservation to conflict sensitive transboundary landscape management In Bruch C Muffett C amp Nichols S S eds Governance Natural Resources and Post Conflict Peacebuilding Oxon New York Routledge pp 825 841 ISBN 978 1136272073 a b c Verweijen J amp Marijnen E 2016 The counterinsurgency conservation nexus guerrilla livelihoods and the dynamics of conflict and violence in the Virunga National Park Democratic Republic of the Congo PDF The Journal of Peasant Studies 45 2 300 320 doi 10 1080 03066150 2016 1203307 S2CID 85555718 Moloo Zahra 14 September 2014 Militarised Conservation Threatens DRC s Indigenous People Part 1 Inter Press Service Retrieved 4 January 2019 Burke J 2018 Six Virunga park rangers killed in DRC wildlife sanctuary The Guardian Retrieved 10 April 2018 In memoriam deadliest attack on Virunga staff in Park s recent history brings total ranger deaths to 175 Virunga 2018 Retrieved 2018 08 17 Virunga Park Closure Statement PDF 2018 Prentice A 2019 Congo s Virunga park reopens eight months after deadly ambush Reuters Retrieved 2019 04 26 Rangers killed in deadliest DR Congo park attack BBC News 2020 Retrieved 27 April 2020 Six park rangers killed in DR Congo s Virunga gorilla reserve France 24 2021 Retrieved 2021 01 13 Six Virunga park rangers killed in eastern Congo ambush CNN 2021 Retrieved 12 January 2021 Italian ambassador to DR Congo killed in UN convoy attack BBC News 2021 Retrieved 2021 02 23 a b c Plumptre A J Pomeroy D Stabach J Laporte N Driciru M Nangendo G Wanyama F amp Rwetsiba A 2012 The effects of environmental and anthropogenic changes on the savannas of the Queen Elizabeth and Virunga National parks In Plumptre A J ed Long Term changes in Africa s Rift Valley impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems New York Nova Science Publishers pp 88 105 Seimon A amp Phillipps G P 2012 Regional Climatology of the Albertine Rift In Plumptre A J ed Long Term changes in Africa s Rift Valley impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems New York Nova Science Publishers pp 18 38 a b Mubalama L 2000 Population and Distribution of Elephants Loxodonta africana africana in the Central Sector of the Virunga National Park Eastern DRC Pachyderm 28 44 55 Brahmachary R L 1980 On the germination of seeds in the dung balls of the African elephant in the Virunga National Park PDF Revue d Ecologie La Terre et la Vie 34 1 139 142 a b Lanjouw A 2002 Behavioural adaptations to water scarcity in Tongo chimpanzees In Boesch C Hohmann G Marchant L eds Behavioural diversity in Chimpanzees and Bonobos Cambridge Cambridge University Press pp 52 60 ISBN 0521006139 a b c Nixon S C amp Lusenge T 2008 Conservation status of okapi in Virunga National Park Democratic Republic of Congo ZSL Conservation Report No 9 PDF London The Zoological Society of London A Plumptre D Kujirakwinja D Moyer M Driciru amp A Rwetsiba August 2010 Greater Virunga Landscape Large Mammal Surveys 2010 Report Wildlife Conservation Society pp 5 6 Retrieved 2 May 2021 CS1 maint uses authors parameter link Uganda Wildlife Authority Planning Unit 26 July 2012 Buhanga Edgar Namara Justine eds Queen Elizabeth National Park Kyambura Wildlife Reserve Kigezi Wildlife Reserve General Management Plan 2011 2021 Report Uganda Wildlife Authority p 2 Retrieved 2 May 2021 a b F Wanyama E Balole P Elkan S Mendiguetti S Ayebare F Kisame P Shamavu R Kato D Okiring S Loware J Wathaut B Tumonakiese Damien Mashagiro T Barendse and A J Plumptre October 2014 Aerial surveys of the Greater Virunga Landscape Technical Report 2014 Report Wildlife Conservation Society pp 5 11 Retrieved 2 May 2021 CS1 maint uses authors parameter link a b Treves A Plumptre A J Hunter L T B amp Ziwa J 2009 Identifying a potential lion Panthera leo stronghold in Queen Elizabeth National Park Uganda and Parc National des Virunga Democratic Republic of Congo Oryx 43 1 60 66 doi 10 1017 S003060530700124X IUCN Cat Specialist Group 2006 Conservation Strategy for the LionPanthera leoin Eastern and Southern Africa Pretoria South Africa IUCN Verschuren J amp Kitsidikiti L 1989 L apparition des crocodiles au lac ex Edouard Parc National des Virunga Zaire PDF Revue d Ecologie La Terre et la Vie 44 4 367 397 Owiunji I Nkuutu D Kujirakwinja D Liengola I Plumptre A Nsanzurwimo A Fawcett K Gray M amp McNeilage A 2005 Biological Survey of Virunga Volcanoes PDF New York Wildlife Conservation Society Hart T B and Hart J A 1986 The ecological basis of hunter gatherer subsistence in African rain forests the Mbuti of Eastern Zaire Human Ecology 14 1 29 55 doi 10 1007 bf00889209 S2CID 154865306 CS1 maint uses authors parameter link Losh Jack 2 April 2021 When Nature Conservation Goes Wrong Foreign Policy Magazine Kyambura Uganda Retrieved 3 May 2021 The Details of the Basongoro of Rwenzori and their Culture in Uganda Go Visit Kenya 2014 Retrieved 3 May 2021 Screenings Virunga Official Website Retrieved 20 August 2014 Sinha Roy Pifa 6 November 2014 Netflix s Virunga uncovers Congo s fight to protect resources Reuters Los Angeles Retrieved 8 November 2014 Bella T 2021 Ndakasi Beloved Mountain Gorilla of Photobomb Fame dies Washington Post External links EditWikimedia Commons has media related to Virunga National Park Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Virunga National Park Virunga National Park UNESCO World Heritage Centre UNESCO Retrieved 22 January 2016 BirdLife International Important Bird Areas factsheet Virunga National Park Visit Virunga National Park Interview With Emmanuel de Merode Director of Virunga National Park National Geographic Blog blog nationalgeographic org May 2017 Retrieved 2017 12 21 Inside the Fight to Save a Dangerous Park National Geographic Magazine 230 1 July 2016 Retrieved 2017 09 11 Retrieved from https en wikipedia org w index php title Virunga National Park amp oldid 1053011435, wikipedia, wiki, book,

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