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Ape species in Virunga national park

Ape species in Virunga national park

Ape species in Virunga national park

Virunga National Park is Africa’s oldest national park, established in 1925, and the only protected area in the world with three taxa of great ape species: Eastern Chimpanzees, Eastern Lowland Gorillas, and Mountain Gorillas.

Virunga national park offers the Great Ape package which gives travelers an opportunity to see two great ape taxa of the park. You will spend four nights at Mikeno Lodge, do double gorilla trekking in Virunga national park, and have chimpanzee habituation trekking experiences. The great ape package departs every Monday at 13:00 from Goma.

Eastern Lowland Gorillas: Eastern Lowland Gorillas (Grauer’s Gorilla) in Virunga national park occupy 13% of the historical Virunga national park however, their population has kept on decreasing to a greater extent of about 50% ever since the mid-90s due to several factors including civil wars, poaching, inbreeding, and destruction of habitat due to agriculture, mining and logging. Well; The largest population of Eastern lowland gorillas in DR Congo live in Kahuzi Biega National Park.

The lowland gorillas of Virunga can be seen in a small and isolated forest located on Mount Tshiaberimu and covers an area of 77 square km, located northwest of Lake Edward.

In order to encounter the challenges facing Eastern lowland gorillas, wildlife conservation bodies such as Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Fauna & Flora International (FFI), International Gorilla Conservation Program, WWF, Dian Fossey Fund and German Development Agency have helped re-arm guards to conserve and protect the gorillas in DR Congo.

Eastern Chimpanzees: Chimpanzees are one of the five species of great ape that live in Virunga national park and can be seen in the Mahura forest of the Rumangabo sector.

Travelers interested in meeting the chimpanzees in Virunga national park are advised to book habituation experience and this activity starts as early as 4:30 am. Only 4 tourists are allowed to visit the chimps of Virunga national park at a cost of USD 100 per person per trek.

There are limited tour packages offered by the Virunga national park; offering the chimpanzee habituation experience of Mahura forest. These packages include the Great ape package that takes a minimum of 5 days, 11 days Virunga expedition package, and the 10 days Rutshuru package

Mountain Gorillas: Virunga National Park is home to approximately a third of mountain gorillas, which reside in the tropical rain forests and slopes of Virunga volcanoes. Currently, the mountain gorilla population in the Virunga Massif has grown from 480 to 604 individuals.

Virunga national park has a total of 8 gorilla families which include; The Kabirizi Family, Bageni Family, Mapuwa Family, Rugendo Family, Lulengo Family, Munyaga Family, Humba Family and Nyakamwe Family

What is the best time to see Ape species in Virunga national park?

Virunga national park can be visited at any time of the year but there are months that are better than the rest and these are the dry months. The best time to see ape species in Virunga national park is the dry season of June to September and December to February because during such months, there is little or no rainfall which leaves the trekking trails less slippery, the vegetation in the park is short giving clear views of the apes

Virunga national park can still be visited in the rainy season of March to May and October to November and those that travel to the park during this season do get huge discounts on accommodation and gorilla trekking permits. The rainy season however is characterized by too much rainfall which makes the trekking and hiking trails muddy and slippery, vegetation is tall giving unclear views of the park animals and the roads leading to the park are impassable.