The Kahuzi-Biega National Park is a wonderful place for many activities; while the ICCN is focusing on the conservation of the fauna and flora within the park they are also developing an eco-tourism program which will further support the Park’s development. If you are lucky enough to go on a gorilla trek in the KBNP you are sure to see the Grauer’s Gorilla (Gorilla beringei graueri) which is found nowhere else but in the DR of Congo, and is not only the largest species of gorilla but the largest primate in the world. This trek is an amazing, moving and truly unique experience that you will carry with you for the rest of your life. Apart from the gorillas, the forest is filled with many other remarkable species of animals, and 13 species of monkeys including baboons and colobus call the park their home. And of course the KBNP is also home to the Eastern Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii). However, these other animals are extremely shy and sightings cannot be guaranteed. If you listen hard though, you may just hear the pan-hoot of a chimpanzee in the distance. If you are interested in seeing chimpanzees in the KBNP, keep watching the blog. In the coming years the ICCN hopes to begin a habituation program, like the one currently running with the gorillas.
The ICCN is completely committed to the conservation of DRC’s wildlife and as such understands the importance of animal rehabilitation centres. With the illegal trade in animals continuing, the government is dedicated to active law enforcement and confiscation of illegally held wildlife in order to reduce the illegal wildlife trade in Congo with the aim of stopping it altogether. The ICCN along with the Centre de Recherche en Sciences Naturelles (CRSN) officially launched the Centre de Rehabilitation des Primates de Lwiro (CRPL) in 2002 to rehabilitate primates confiscated due to illegal trade, and in 2011 the ICCN integrated the CRPL into their operational plan, further indicating the importance of the centre in conservation within the region.
The CRPL is currently managed by a Management Advisory Group (MAG) which includes the ICCN, CRSN, Coopera, Venner av Lwiro and Friends of Lwiro Australia and the MAG are seeking new partners to come on board.
The CRPL aims to rehabilitate and give world class care to the animals that are displaced or orphaned by illegal activities such as mining, hunting and trade which are confiscated by the ICCN, with an aim of reintroduction in the future. While the facilities are still not yet complete, the CRPL currently cares for 49 chimpanzees and over 60 monkeys and strive to give them the best care possible. The CRPL also engages in the education of local people, children, expatriates, military and tourists and has plans to further our educational outreach in the near future. Other programs undertaken by the CRPL include research in National Park and animal health, working to support the government wherever it can.
While the CRPL still has a way to go with facilities and programs, both the MAG and ICCN are committed to moulding the CRPL into a world class facility for primate rehabilitation, conservation education and national park health programs, creating a multi-disciplinary approach to conservation within the region.