Which animals live in Virunga national park?
Which animals live in Virunga national park? For so years, Virunga national park has been recognized for its endangered mountain gorillas and other wildlife. The national park is home to about a quarter of the remaining gorilla species in the world that have found a home in the thick tropical forests of the park. Other mountain gorilla species do live in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park, volcanoes national park, and Mgahinga national park in East Africa.
Mountain gorillas are a subspecies of eastern gorillas and they are critically endangered species of all the primates in the world. Mountain gorillas are the main attractions in Virunga national park and as of today, there are 8 gorilla families in Virunga national park. These include Kabirizi family, Bageni family, Mapuwa family, Rugendo family, Munyaga family, Humba family, Rugendo family and Lulengo family.
List of animals that live in Virunga national park
Primates: Virunga national park is a habitat to over 20 primate species and some of them include chimpanzees (pan troglodytes), mountain gorillas (G. b. beringei), central African red colobus (procolobus foai), olive baboons (Papio Anubis), red-tailed monkeys (Cercopithecus ascanius), blue monkeys (Cercopithecus Mitis), de brazza’s monkey (c. neglectus), dent’s mona monkeys (C. denti), hamlyn’s monkey (C. hamlyni), olive baboon (papio anubis), grey-checked mangabey (lophocebus albigena), and mantled guereza (colobus guereza) among others.
Mammals: Mammals in Virunga national park are about 218 and they include hippopotamus (hippopotamus amphibius), marsh mongoose (atilax palidinosus), bongo (tragelaphus eurycerus), African bush elephant (loxodonta africana), okapi (okapia johnstoni), bay duiker (cephalophus dorsalis), blue duiker (philantomba monticola), weyns’s duiker (c.weynsi), harnessed bushbuck (T. scriptus), red river hog (potamochoerus porcus), water chevrotain ( hyemoschus aquaticus), common warthog (Phacochoerus africanus), african buffalo (syncerus caffer), topi (Damaliscus lunatus), western tree hyrax ( Dendrohyrax dorsalis), crested porcupine ( Hy strix cristata), waterbuck (K.ellopsiprymnus), yellow-backed duiker (c. silvicuitor), tree pangolin ( phataginus tricuspis), aadvark (oryceropus afer), boehm’s bush squirrel (Paraxerus boehmi), checked elephant shrew ( rhynchocyon cirnei), uganda kob (Kobus kob thomas), Lord Derby’s scaly-tailed squirrel (anomalurus derbianus), giant forest hogs (hylochoerus meinertzhageni), leopard (p. pardus pardus), lion (panthera leo), and emin’s piched rat (cricetomys emini).
Birds: Virunga national park is a birder’s parasite with over 706 bird species of which 20 are endemic to the Albertine region. Some of the bird species in Virunga national park include Rwenzori batis, red-throated alethe, collared apalis, mountain masked apalis, dusky crimson-wing, regal sunbird, strange weaver, wahlberg’s eagle, African goshawk, African hobby, harrier hawk, tambourine dove, western tinkerbird, yellow-rumped tinkerbird, brown necked parrot, Rwenzori double-collared sunbird, handsome spurfowl, common buzzard, mountain buzzard, black and white -casqued hornbill, red-chested cuckoo, olive long-tailed cuckoo, and barred long-tailed cuckoo.
Other bird species include Klaas’s cuckoo, archer’s ground robin, diederik cuckoo, blue-spotted wood dove, red-faced woodland warbler, narina trogon, white-headed wood hoopoe, hadeda ibis, grey-crowned crane, white-necked raven, black-billed turaco, African olive pigeon, shelley’s crimsonwing, blue-headed sunbird, stripe-breasted tit, white-tailed crested flycatcher, cinnamon-chested bee-eater, Kivu ground thrush, grey-throated barbet, mountain oriole, speckled mousebird, white-tailed blue flycatcher, white-tailed blue flycatcher, and mountain oriole.
Other notable bird species in Virunga are speckled mousebird, green sandpiper, black saw-wing, yellow-billed barbet, cardinal woodpecker, alpine swift, mountain yellow warbler, mountain greenbul, red-eyed dove, grey-chested illadopsis, chestnut-throated apalis, brown woodland warbler, blue-headed coucal, olive woodpecker, archer’s ground robin, Angolan swallow, yellow-whiskered greenbul, common bulbul, white-starred robin, white-browed robin-chat, chubb’s cisticola, banded prinia, African thrush, cinnamon bracken warbler, stonechat, rufous thrush, and olive thrush.
More birds in Virunga are grassland pipit, thick-billed seedeater, streaky seedeater, black-faced rufous warbler, northern puffback, tropical boubou, narrow-tailed starling, black and white mannikin, pin-tailed whydah, grey-backed camaroptera, white-browned crombec, yellow white-eye, common waxbill, black-throated wattle-eye, chinspot batis, mountain illadopsis, olive sunbird, bronze sunbird, malachite sunbird, grey-headed negrofinch, mountain sooty boubou, Rwenzori turaco, black bishop, collared sunbird, variable sunbird, mackinnon’s shrike, lunder’s bushshrike, bronze mannikin, African citril, doherty’s bushshrike, sharpe’s starling, baglafecht weaver, black-headed waxbill,
Reptiles: Virunga national park hosts about 109 reptiles among which include snakes, geckos, chameleons, crocodiles, frogs, torrent salamander, and anthracosauria.
Activities to do in Virunga national park
Gorilla trekking: Virunga national park is home to more than a quarter of the remaining mountain gorillas in the world. Mountain gorilla trekking in Virunga national park is done at any time of the year by those that have valid gorilla trekking permits. The gorilla trekking activity starts with a briefing and only 8 people are allowed to trek a single gorilla family.
Armed ranger guides lead the trekkers into the jungle for an activity that takes 2-7 hours. While trekking, there are chances of meeting different park mammals, primates, birds, and vegetation. When the trekkers meet the mountain gorillas, they are around them for 1 hour and they are able to learn about their habits, watch them do daily activities, and take photos. While trekking mountain gorillas in Virunga national park, we advise you to carry along waterproof hiking shoes to help you pass through the slippery trails and rugged terrain.
Birding: Virunga national park is a birder’s parasite with more than 706 bird species that have been so far recorded in the park. If you have enough time in DR Congo then you should choose to do birding in Virunga national park. The activity is guided and is done from different birding trails in the forest. Some of the bird species in Virunga include narrow-tailed starling, common bulbul, sharpe’s starling, baglafecht weaver, grey-chested illadopsis, black bishop, variable sunbird, grey-headed negrofinch, common waxbill, rufous thrush, black-headed waxbill, bronze mannikin, cinnamon bracken warbler, black and white mannikin, white-starred robin, pin-tailed whydah, grey-throated barbet, thick-billed seedeater, and western tinkerbird among others.
Chimpanzee trekking: Virunga national park is home to a few chimpanzee species that have been habituated for tourism purposes. The activity is done by people above the age of 15 years and they must have valid permits from Virunga national park offices. Chimpanzee trekking does start with a briefing at the park offices and from there armed ranger guides lead the trekkers into the jungle where they use different trials to locate these apes.
The trekking activity takes 2-4 hours of meeting different bird species, vegetation, and animals such as lions, leopards, buffaloes, okapis, topis, elephants, kobs, duikers, and much more. When the chimpanzees are located, 1 hour is given to trekkers to be around these apes, watch them do daily activities, take photos and learn about their habits.
Hiking: Hiking is another activity mostly done in Virunga national park most especially on mount Nyiragongo which is the most active volcano in the world. Hikers must be physically fit to make it to the summit of this volcano and all must have hiking permits. Hiking starts at Bukima patrol post with a briefing from the park wardens, armed ranger guides lead the trekkers to the summit of this volcano and during the hiking process, the hikers do meet different park mammals, primates, and birds.
There are different resting points during the hike that takes 5-6 hours and at the summit is rewarding with great views of the lava lake, surrounding area such as Virunga volcanoes, mountain Rwenzori, Lake Kivu, Goma city, Virunga national park, and plantations. Hiking Nyiragongo is every person come true since the last eruption took place in May 2021.
Accommodation in Virunga national park
There are a number of accommodation facilities in Virunga national park and these range from budget to mid-range to luxury options such as Lulimbi Tented Camp, Nyiragongo Volcano Summit Shelters, Bukima Tented Camp, Mikeno Lodge, Tchegera Island, Kibumba Tented Camp, and much more.
When to visit Virunga national park
Travelers can visit Virunga national park at any time of the year but there are months that are better than the rest. The drier months are the best for Virunga national park visits and they occur from June to September and December to February. These months are characterized by little or no rainfall that makes the trekking and hiking trails less muddy, vegetation is thin and the roads leading to the park are passable.
Travelers can also visit Virunga national park in the rainy season of March to May and October to November to enjoy huge discounts on accommodation facilities and gorilla permits. However, during the rainy season, the trekking and hiking trails are muddy and slippery, the vegetation is thick with unclear views of the animals and the roads leading to the park are impassable.