Virunga National Park is the oldest African National Park and for over several years the park has been affected by the rebels work and the tourism services has not been so much opted by travelers due to the fear of the rebels attacks to the rangers and other park staffs. But today there are several organizations both locally and internationally that are supporting the conservation of the wildlife in the park and programs like Congo Hounds are in place to protect the park and its wildlife from the local poachers which is so much practiced in Democratic Republic of Congo and badly enough with guns.
Today, the Congo tour operators arranging safari tours in Congo are number one supporters of conservation in the way that they have put much effort marketing the Virunga National Park to international travelers who in return visit the park and out of the fees they pay for the activities like gorilla trek and Nyiragongo hike and from the lodges do support the conservation programs in the park and the local communities projects and hence making them protect the park.
Here is the places that you can visit in Democratic Republic of Congo in Virunga National Park and Kahuzi Biega National Park and if you are willing to participate in conservation of these animals please arrange with the above trusted tour operators.
Senkwekwe Gorilla Orphanage Center, Sanctuary
Senkwekwe Gorilla Orphanage Center is located at park headquarters in Rumangabo, is the only facility in the world that cares for mountain gorilla orphans in Virunga National Park. Each of the four gorillas living at the center was victimized by poachers or animal traffickers, and likely witnessed family members being murdered. Thanks to the financial support of individuals around the world – and the loving care provided by their human caregivers – the orphans now lead happy and secure lives in their forested enclosure. The orphans also receive veterinary care from the Gorilla Doctors, arguably the most skilled and experienced gorilla veterinarians in the world.
In early 2009, Chief Warden Emmanuel de Merode and park rangers regained control of Virunga, following the arrest of rebel leader Laurent Nkunda. Shortly after, park staff began raising awareness about the two young orphan mountain gorillas that were in their care. Orphans Ndeze and Ndakasi had been forced by the circumstances of war to live in tiny compound in the capital city of Goma. Unlike their natural environment, Goma was heavily polluted, noisy, and largely built on a lava flow devoid of vegetation.
With the southern sector once again secure, a team set out to raise money to build a care facility at park headquarters in Rumangabo. The site chosen for the facility was perfect: lush forest, teaming with wildlife, expansive – and safe. As 2009 drew to a close, park staff kicked off an intense online campaign, and in a matter of two months, raised $211,000. The World Heritage Organization matched every dollar donated by caring individuals around the world. The Murry Foundation and Howard G. Buffett Foundation also provided critical funding. The “Senkwekwe Center” was soon built and the orphans living in Goma were promptly transferred to their new home. The center is named after the dominant silver back of the Rugendo group, who was murdered in 2007, along with three other members of his family.
At the end of 2010, two more orphan mountain gorillas, Maisha and Koboko, were transferred to the Senkwekwe Center. They came from Rwanda where they had been living in a small facility. The four gorillas settled in nicely and soon became a tightly knit family. Tragically, Koboko died during the latest conflict. Although the official cause of death was attributed to a gastrological infection, the sounds of mortar fire and machine guns severely stressed Koboko, and likely led to the collapse of his immune system. The latest addition to the Senkwekwe Center is Matabishi, a young male that was found alone and outside the park boundary near Bikenge. Poachers who feared they would be arrested by Virunga’s rangers likely released Matabishi. After 6-month quarantine, Matabishi has joined Ndeze, Ndakasi, and Maisha.
The Senkwekwe Center also plays a critical role in rehabilitating orphan eastern lowland gorillas confiscated from animal traffickers. Once rehabilitated, these gorilla orphans are transferred to the GRACE facility for eastern lowland gorillas.
Lwiro Chimpanzee Sanctuary
Lwiro Chimpanzee Sanctuary is a sanctuary for chimpanzees and monkeys that is located few meters outside the border of Kahuzi Biega National Park. It is the only sanctuary in the region and playing an important role in supporting conservation measures in the Park and the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The sanctuary was started in 2002 by the CRPL’s two government partners due to the increasing number of primates in the region, confiscated from the illegal wildlife trades by authorities. As the only sanctuary in the Democratic Republic of Congo accepting chimpanzees and monkeys, support of the CRPL is vital to working towards conservation of primates within this country.