The Virunga National Park is over 1.8 Million acres big and it is located in DRC in Central Africa It was the first National park to be established in Africa and it is bordered by Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Queen Elizabeth National Park In Uganda and Ruwenzori National Park still in Uganda.
In 1979 UNESCO designated the park as a World Heritage Site, but the wildlife in the park has suffered in recent years due to poaching and civil war.
When the park was originally established, it was named Albert National Park, for its founder King Albert I of Belgium.
The main reason for the park’s creation was to protect the mountain gorillas that lived in the mountains.
Interesting Virunga National Park Facts:
- This park was well managed in it first 35 years of existence and poachers were under control.
- In 1960 when the DRC gained its independence from Belgium, the park management started failing.
- In 1969 the new president of the Congo, Mobutu, revived conservation and the park was renamed Virunga National Park.
- In the 1907s the park got a lot of funding and the conservation works had resumed until the 1980s when the president then lost grip and instabilities ensued.
- In the 1980s UNESCO changed the status of the park to endangered, as poaching and chaos was destroying its resources.
- Virunga is used for mining oil and in the near future about 80% of the park land will be used.
- In the southern region of the park the landscape consists of montane tropical forests, alpine forests, and it has old and new lava flows.
- In the central region of the park the landscape consists of African savannah, marshes, riverine forests, and lake shores.
- In the northern region of the park the landscape consist of lake shores, African savannah, riverine forests, alpine forests, and glaciers.
- This park has the highest death of rangers as they are often killed by poachers.
- About one quarter of the remaining mountain gorillas in the world are housed here.
- Virunga is the world’s only park to house three great ape species, including the mountain gorilla, chimpanzees, and Grauer’s gorillas.
- The Okapi is a zebra/giraffe type species, considered to be endangered. It is found in Virunga.
- A documentary titled Virunga received an Oscar (Academy Award) nomination in 2015. The film highlights the conservation challenges to the park, which is Africa’s oldest national park.