Kahuzi Biega National Park is a re-known UNESCO world heritage site featuring the concentration of eastern lowland gorilla subspecies scientifically known as Gorilla berengei graueri. Covering a geographical spread of 6,000km2, Kahuzi Biega is positioned in South Kivu Province to the west of Albertine rift featuring an elevation of 700 to 3,300m.
The 10% of the park landscape is composed of high Mountains featuring extinct Volcanoes including Mount Kahuzi and Mount Biega from the park is named.
The formation to Kahuzi Biega National Park emanates from the establishment of a Zoological Reserve in 1937 on Mount Kahuzi with the aim of protecting the eastern low land gorillas by the Belgian colonial government.
Initially the reserve covered a geographical landscape of 750km but it was decreased to 600km in 1970 establishing it as Kahuzi Biega National Park with a count of about 300 eastern low land gorillas. However, the park was later increased to 6,000km in 1975 and received a world heritage site status in 1980.
The park features two rain seasons per year and an annual rainfall of 1,200mm – 1,800mm. The season is from April to May and from October to January while temperature range is between 19 to 21°C.
Congo Safari Attractions in Kahuzi Biega National Park
Flora as a Congo Safari Attraction in Kahuzi Biega National Park
The park features a lush tropical rain forest marked by 1,178 plant species. The Park is a section of Congo basin featuring marshland and riverine forest flora, dense wet equatorial rain forest in the west low land sector while the eastern mountain sector features continuous forest vegetation ranging from 600 to 2600m in altitude.
Eastern lowland gorillas as a Congo Safari Attraction in Kahuzi Biega National Park
The Eastern lowland gorilla species are noted to be the largest of all Sub-species of gorillas. They feature a jet black coat that turns into Silver after maturity just like the Mountain gorillas. But the Eastern low land gorillas are differentiated by their short muzzle, large hands, huge body, shorter body and head hair.
The Eastern Lowland gorillas feature the widest altitudinal range compared to other subspecies of gorillas as they thrive in low land, transitional and Mountainous altitudinal tropical forests. They are noted to be peaceful and social living in groups of five (5) to thirty (30) members featuring the main Alpha male charged with the responsibility of protecting and establishing home range of the group.
The gestation period of a female low land gorilla is around 8½ months and does the breastfeeding for twelve (12) months. The baby gorilla crawls at around 9 weeks and is able to walk after 35 weeks. The young gorillas spend 3 – 4 years with their mothers after and then become independent and mating occurs at 11 or 12 years of age.
The Silverbacks can enter into deadly fighting when different groups meet injuring each other with their canines. This moment is marked by hooting, rising on their legs, slapping and tearing vegetation, beating their chest with their cupped hands, thumping the ground with their palms and kicking with one leg.
Eastern Lowland Gorilla Facts
- Feed on fruit, seeds, plants, leaves, bark and stems. Also feed on minor insects like termites and ants.
- Males can stretch to 163 kg of weight while females are close to a half.
- Males feature up to 5ft 7inch average height while females rise to 5ft 3inch or less.
- The Eastern low land gorilla arms are longer than its legs
- Are noted to be shy though social
- Are diurnal species thus active during the day time
- Can stretch to 50 years in the wild as their lifespan.
- The Eastern lowland gorillas feature 25 vocalization sounds which they use in communication
Other Wildlife as a Congo Safari Attraction in Kahuzi Biega National park
Besides the Eastern lowland gorillas, Kahuzi Biega also features other animals including Eastern Chimpanzees, owl faced monkey, forest elephant, bongo, forest buffalo, eastern needle-clawed galago, Mount Kahuzi African climbing mouse, forest hog, Hippopotamus, Leopard and Anubis Baboon.
Birds as a Congo Safari Attraction in Kahuzi Biega National park
Kahuzi Biega National Park features 349 species of birds including four species that are on the IUCN Red list namely; Yellow-crested Helmet-Shrike, Congo Peafowl, African Green Broadbill and Rockefeller’s Sunbird.
Mt.kahunzi-biega as a Congo Safari Attraction in Kahuzi Biega National park
Rising to 3,317m above sea level, the mountain is an extinct VolcanoThe mountain is an extinct volcano with an elevation of about 3,317m altitude. It has the highest peak in the park and runs west of Lake Kivu on the Albertine Rift valley. The mountain erupted more than 12,000 years ago.
The mountain has a variety of vegetation that is determined by altitude. The vegetation includes wet lowland rainforest, transitional rainforest and montane forest.
- Wet equatorial rainforest and a transitional forest between 1,200m and 1,500m elevation. Transitional forest vegetation exists from 600m to about 2,600m.
- From about 2,000 to 2350m is the swamp forest vegetation which is intercepted with mountain forest.
- Bamboo forest grows from about 2350 to 2600m elevation; And higher from 26,00 to the summit at 3,330m is the alpine zone which is characterized by dry savannah grassland and endemic plants like senecio kahuzicus.
- The sanctuary is a rehabilitation center which provides care for orphaned primates such as chimpanzees and money species. The sanctuary was established in 2002 and is located near the Tshivanga Visitors center in an old Belgian research center. The sanctuary has about 55 chimpanzees and over 60 monkey species. Rate: US$25