Volcanoes National Park (French: Parc National des Volcans) lies in northwestern Rwanda and borders Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. The national park is known as a haven for the mountain gorilla. It is home to five of the eight volcanoes of the Virunga Mountains (Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabyinyo), which are covered in rainforest and bamboo. The park was the base for the zoologist Dian Fossey.
The great volcanic massif of the Virunga Mountains straddles the borders of Rwanda, Uganda and the DRC, covering a huge area of over 8,000km², and encompassing six active and three extinct volcanoes is home to More than half of the world’s last mountain Gorillas about 350 of them.
Volcanoes National Park or Parc National des Volcanoes lies in north-western Rwanda and borders Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda.
The national park is 111 km to Kigali. The park is a home for the mountain Gorilla and a number of volcanoes that are covered in rainforest and bamboo. The park was gazetted in 1925 as the Albert National Park with the aim of protecting gorillas from poachers. It was the first national park to be created in Africa in 1929. It currently harbours a spectacular array of rare and endangered animals and plants.
The park was used as a base by the American naturalist Dian Fossey to carry out her research into Gorillas and she also helped to set up Karisoke Research Centre between Karisimbi and Visoke.
Its altitude ranges from about 2,500m to the peak of Karisimbi, at 4,500m, resulting in vegetation that varies considerably due to the large altitudinal range within the park . The lower Montane Forest has mainly been lost to Agriculture. There is still extensive bamboo forests and some of the last remaining afro-montane forest habitat on the planet.
The volcanoes within the park include the following:
The Volcanoes National Park management depends on five strategic areas as follows;
- Anti poaching and regular monitoring of the park and its key biodiversity.
- Behavioral research, veterinary research and health care
- Regulated Tourism
- Strategic partnerships for local development, involvement of local communities in conservation.
- Trans-boundary collaboration efforts
The wildlife includes the following:
- Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei).
- Golden monkey (Cercopithecus mitis kandti).
- Black-fronted duiker (Cephalophus niger).
- Buffalo (Syncerus caffer)
- Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta)
- Bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus).
- Elephants in the park are very rare.
- 178 recorded Bird species.
Activities in the Park
The activities in the park include the following:
- Gorilla visits
- Golden monkey visits.
- Climbing of Karisimbi volcano
- Climbing of Bisoke volcano
- Tour of the Lakes and Caves.
- Visiting the tomb of Dian Fossey.
Funds from the Park
The funding for maintaining the park and conserving wildlife comes from the following sources:
- Revenue from tourism
- Special events at the park ( Kwita Izina which takes place every year in month of June)
The surplus revenue goes to the government and to local projects in the area to help local people benefit from the large revenue stream generated by the park.