For 50 years, Kahuzi-Biega National Park has protected one of the most biodiverse regions in all of Africa. Founded on November 30, 1970, Kahuzi-Biega is where the first gorillas – Grauer’s gorillas – were habituated for visitation by tourists, almost five decades ago.
Celebrating 50 Years of Kahuzi-Biega National Park
This region is globally important for primates. And Grauer’s gorillas, a cousin to mountain gorillas, exist only in the forests of eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Today, Grauer’s are critically endangered with fewer than 3,800 remaining.
Great ape conservation has long been a signature for our team. Together with our talented partner Dr. Augustin K. Basabose and his Congolese NGO Primate Expertise, we’ve been working in and around the park for many years – protecting gorillas and other great apes, restoring the forest, and engaging local communities.
Our work addresses two major threats to great apes in and around Kahuzi-Biega – poaching and habitat loss. By implementing ecological monitoring and research, snare removal and anti-poaching patrols, habitat restoration, and livelihood diversification to protect gorillas and improve livelihoods of people living in buffer areas outside the park.
Because these gorillas are critically endangered, our work here is essential to their survival. And our partnerships with government, local communities, and NGOs have never been more important.
2020 has been a difficult year for so many reasons. For Kahuzi-Biega, COVID-19 caused an abrupt suspension of tourism in order to keep wildlife and people safe. While an important and necessary move, it also eliminated an important revenue stream for conservation activities and local livelihoods.
To combat the negative effects of COVID-19, we took rapid action with the Primate Expertise team, providing emergency support to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) and food rations so that 50 park rangers could immediately and safely resume anti-poaching patrols.
Outside the park, we provided food and hygienic supplies to 179 families across three Indigenous Batwa communities suffering from the pandemic. This rapid response has made a world of difference, for the local communities around the Park and gorillas.
Today, as we celebrate Kahuzi-Biega’s 50th Anniversary, we’re reminded of the resilience of both people and wildlife. And as we begin to turn our calendars into 2021, and look towards the next 50 years, our optimism towards the future is as strong as ever.
Please join us in celebrating 50 years of Kahuzi-Biega National Park.