The Kahuzi Biega National Park (KBNP) was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1990 and listed as a World Heritage Site in Danger in 1997. Despite its internationally important biological diversity and enormous ecological significance, few people have heard of the park. A decade of war and political unrest has only added to KBNP’s difficulties, and today the park receives few visitors. The small numbers of visitors mean that tourists have the opportunity for much more intimate encounters with gorillas than parks in neighbouring countries.
Throughout the wars and unrest, the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature (ICCN) in collaboration with international programmes spearheaded by the GIZ (previously GTZ), who have partnered with the park since 1985 to ensure its survival.
Many gorillas were lost during the period of conflict, along with large numbers of the park’s other animals, including chimpanzees, forest elephants, leopards and Colobus monkeys. Signs are now pointing towards recovery, and the ICCN is devoting significant resources to relaunching tourism as a source of sustainable revenue for the park.