Category Archives: Grauer’s gorilla

Gorilla naming ceremony gives us Cibulula

One of the Kahuzi-Biega National Park’s gorilla families, which for a long time went by the name of “Nouvelle Famille” (New Family), finally received its official name on 27 September 2011, as part of South Kivu’s International Tourism Day celebration, attended by the Kahuzi-Biega NP team, provincial authorities, various Nature Clubs (youth-based conservation groups) and other interested parties.

Silverback in KBNP's high altitude sector

The family’s chosen name, Cibulula, which is also the name given to the dominant silverback, means “he who looks and finds in peace”.  The name was chosen by the gathered assembly above a number of other suggestions made by the Kahuzi-Biega NP team.  In order to facilitate the decision, the Nature Club members gave life to the various suggestions through small sketches and poems. The Provincial Minister then had the honour of officially naming the family.

A sketch by a Club Nature

The Kahuzi-Biega National Park thanks you in advance for your support in helping us protect the Cibulula family. We will continue to monitor the them daily and also hope to eventually habituate the  family for tourism visits.

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Gorilla trekking in KBNP

Undoubtedly the main attraction of the Kahuzi-Biega National Park, a visit to see our Grauer’s gorillas (Gorilla gorilla graueri) is a unique and unforgettable experience. These largest of gorillas can only be visited in our park, a privilege of which we are immensely proud and which we are delighted to share with the rest of the world.

The Grauer’s gorilla is only found in eastern DRC. It is protected in the KBNP and in the Maiko National Park and is distributed between Lubutu in the North, Lubero in the North-East and Fizi in the South. The Grauer’s gorilla is the largest of all the subspecies, with males in the wild reaching weights of 250 kg and heights of 2 m when standing upright. The females are considerably smaller with a maximum weight of 110 kg and a height of 140 cm.

A silverback displays his dominance...

...and then goes back to eating leaves, master of his domain

A tyical visit will start with a 1-2 hour trek through the forest (although occasionally the trek will take only a few minutes), making your way through the dense and varied vegetation, where you may come across some our other primates such as the Owl-faced Guenon, spot one our endemic birds like the colorful Ruwenzori Touraco, or stumble in the footprint of a forest elephant.

But nothing matches the excitement as our experienced guides indicate

A young lookout lets the family know of the visitors' arrival

that you have reached your destination. Often, the first gorilla you’ll see is one of the young keeping look-out in the trees.  The next hour spent in the company of the gorillas will allow you to catch a glimpse of the gorillas going about their daily lives; feeding, playing, resting, grooming, teaching. Look closely and appreciate the different expressions on the gorillas’ faces and distinguish the various personalities of each family member. If you are with our star silverback Chimanuka, try to spot the four sets of twins, an unheard of phenomenon which has baffled and excited the world’s primatologist community. If you were not already convinced of the importance of protecting this animal, by the end of this magical hour, you will be.

A happy visitor gets the shot of a lifetime

Arranging visits

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Gorilla permits can be obtained at the Visitors Centre at Tshivanga or at the ICCN Office in Bukavu (both open Monday to Friday from 8am – 4pm). Phone reservations can be made on +243 99 309 6120 (Français) or +243 99 725 4296 (English). Email reservations can be made on reservationpnkb@gmail.com. Alternatively, you can arrange your visit via a local tour operator or hotel.

At Tshivanga, the entrance to the park, you must check in and pay for the visitor’s permit- Children under the age of 15 are not admitted. You are advised to bring a raincoat, boots or walking shoes and water.