Nyungwe National Park
Nyungwe rainforest, one of the best preserved rainforests in Central Africa, is located in the Albertine Rift Mountains, between the basins of Africa’s two great rivers, the Congo River and the Nile River. Within the Nyungwe rainforest of southwestern Rwanda, lies Nyungwe National Park. Originally set aside as a reserve in 1933, and then established as a national park in 2004, Nyungwe National Park is Africa’s largest protected mountain rainforest, covering nearly one thousand square kilometers. Nyungwe National Park is contiguous with Kibira National Park in neighboring Burundi. Mount Bigugu is the highest point in the Nyungwe National Park reaching an altitude of nearly 3,000 kilometers. Nyungwe National Park includes rainforest, bamboo, grassland, swamp, and bog habitats.
The variety of terrestrial habitats in Nyungwe National Park supports many different species of plants and animals. The national park’s great biodiversity makes it a priority for wildlife conservation efforts in Africa. Nyungwe National Park contains nearly 1,100 species of plants, more than 200 species of trees, more than 100 species of orchid and many other beautiful flowering plants such as giant lobelia and wild begonia. Nyungwe National Park is home to about 300 bird species, 85 mammal species, 13 of the 64 species of primates found in Africa, and about 70 species of amphibians and reptiles. Nyungwe National Park also contains many endemic species of animals. The presence of colonies of chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) also makes Nyungwe National Park a special place for both wildlife conservationists and park visitors. This primate species, considered the closest living relative to human beings, is endangered due to loss of habitat and hunting associated with the expanding human activity in the chimpanzee’s range. The chimpanzee population in Rwanda is estimated to be around 500 individuals, with most of these chimpanzees found in and around Nyungwe national park.
Some of the species of primates found in Nyungwe National Park include the Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes), Olive Baboon (Papio anubis), Adolf Friedrich’s Angola Colobus (Colobus angolensis), Golden Monkey (Cercopithecus kandti), L’Hoest’s Monkey (Cercopithecus l’hoesti), Silver Monkey (Cercopithecus doggetti), Dent’s Mona Monkey (Cercopithecus denti), Hamlyn’s Monkey (Cercopithecus hamlyni), Red-tailed Monkey (Cercopithecus ascanius), Grey-cheeked Mangabey (Lophocebus albigena), Vervet Monkey (Chlorocebus pygerythrus), Potto (Perodicticus potto), and several species of Bushbabies (also known as Galagos).
Some of the species of birds that are seen in Nyungwe National Park include great blue turaco (Corythaeola cristata), White and black-casqued Hornbill (Bycanistes subcylindricus) sometimes called the Grey-cheeked Hornbill, blue-headed sunbird (Cyanomitra alinae), purple-breasted Sunbird (Nectarinia purpureiventris), Ruwenzori turaco (Ruwenzorornis johnstoni), yellow-eyed black flycatcher (Melaenornis ardesiacus), black-headed paradise flycatcher (Terpsiphone rufiventer), African golden oriole (Oriolus auratus), red-throated alethe (Pseudalethe poliophrys), Chubb’s Cisticola (Cisticola chubbi), African green pigeon (Treron calvus), Ross’s turaco (Musophaga rossae), rufous-breasted sparrowhawk (Accipiter rufiventris), and white-headed wood hoopoe (Phoeniculus bollei). There are also 26 endemic species of bird in Nyungwe National Park, such as the Grauer’s rush warbler (Bradypterus graueri).