Virunga National Park

Mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) are found in Rwanda, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo. Virunga National Park in DRC is home to about ¼ of the global population. This marvelous natural setting has a remarkable biodiversity and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its varied landscapes (forests, savannas, swamps, volcanoes and glaciated peaks) extend over 7800 square kilometers. Created in 1925, this is the oldest national park in Africa.

Threatened by the destruction of their habitat and by poaching, mountain gorillas experienced a dramatic decline in the 70’s to reach the number of less than 250 individuals in the early 80’s. Thanks to the protection work initiated by the primatologist Dian Fossey and the conservation efforts that followed, the population has increased again and today there are an estimated 900 wild individuals. Despite this rise in the population, the species remains “critically endangered” on the IUCN Red List.

We decided to support the conservation of mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park where much territory remains unsafe because of the presence of armed militia. Gorilla groups are daily monitored by rangers who removed the snares set by poachers and prevent illegal intrusions inside the park, often risking their lives since more than a hundred of them have been killed during their task.

The park also manages a rescue center for a small group of orphan gorillas whom family groups have been decimated by poachers.

Besides the daily protection of the great apes and their habitat, Virunga National Park seeks to develop local communities by building hydroelectric power plants that generates electricity in the villages surrounding the park and by building schools and healthcare centers.

Website: www.virunga.org

Photo credit: Florence Perroux.