Tourism is blooming as Kahuzi Biega National Park goes beyond 100 visitors a month

Tourists visiting Lowland Gorillas

We are proud to announce that 106 visitors travelled to Kahuzi Biega to see the eastern lowland gorillas in August. This is a large increase compared to August 2011, which had only 62 visitors. A majority of visitors had less than an hour of walking through the forest before coming across the gorillas.

Visitors come from USA, Asia, Europe, Scandinavia and Australia. Many Congolese were also among the visitors. They come from a wide variety of backgrounds including students, retirees, researchers and newlyweds.

For more information on visiting Kahuzi Biega National Park click here or email us at: info@kahuzi-biega.org.

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Echo of the environment at South Kivu

The provincial Minister holding a speech during the meeting

The provincial Minister holding a speech during the meeting

Provincial authorities of the South Kivu are decided to imply it self in the fight against the destruction of the natural resources of the protected areas of this province. On April 05 2012 to the hotel Mount Kahuzi under the direction of the Provincial Minister Mister Kiriza Willy Protected area managers namely the National Park of kahuzi-biega, the Natural Reserve of Itombwe and the domain of hunt of Lwama and their partners met to present the states of places and the partnership level with the international NGO and international cooperation in the domain of the environment.  The boss of site of the PNKB presented his park while raising the threats that his site crosses, the presence of bands armies and farmers armies in certain corners of the park do a locking of the advancement of the work, despite that the efforts employed by the ICCN/PNKB in collaboration with its partners are promising the reduction of threats were returned 36% according to Mister Radar NISHULI the Administrator of

Radar Nishuli Kahuzi Biega Chief Warden speaking abouth Kahuzi Biega.

Radar Nishuli Kahuzi Biega Chief Warden speaking abouth Kahuzi Biega.

the PNKB when to the Domain of hunt of Lwama, it proves himself that the love of the nature pushes them has to work despite the bad work conditions not of buildings, no cartages automobiles not of means of communications, no partner, the state of the poorly known ecosystems after the lack of archiving and documentation after hearing the presentations of the Bosses of sites and the one of its among others partners the GIZ, the WCS, the PACEBCO,WWF, the Following recommendations were gone out again of the bosses of sites of the protected areas: 

• To put together all the actors of the green domain

• To create a framework of consultation and of exchange between the different The PNKB received officially 7 bikes marks DT 175 zero kilometerservices étatiques working in the environmental domain the engagement of the authority of guardianship of the protected areas translated themselves while promising to take a plea in order to bring a support in this domain.  The next day, to the General neighborhood of the national park kahuzi-biega to Tshivanga followed itself an activity of official discount of Bikes to the PNKB, a gift of DFID through the UNOPS in the framework of their partnership of reopening of road miti-hombo and burhale-shabunda.  The PNKB received officially 7 bikes marks DT 175 zero kilometer between the hands of the Provincial Minister of the environment, important matters, urban planning, habitat and civil engineering Master KIRIZA Willy in the presence of frameworks of the ICCN and the members CPGES or it asked the well-worn ones of well to take cares for a long conservation.

Kahuzi Biega National Park experiments the CGCC (a french acronym meaning: management council for the community conservation) in the neighboring territory of Kabare.

The membre of  C.G.C.C are on workshop

The member of C.G.C.C are on workshop

Considering a number of weaknesses picked out and observed during different census made up on the lifetime of the “CCC”, the French acronym meaningComity of community conservation” among which the lack of the result impact on the intervention area spread in different community groupments, apart from that different action undertaken by CCCs on the field where not recorded in the action plans of collectivity neither for the provincial.
Luck of bottom up information as well as among CCCs members.

the warden Mr Radar NISHULI speak about the Park

the chief warden Mr Radar NISHULI speak about the Park

In the national community conservation strategy, it was clearly showed up that it was necessary to create a CGCC which will stands for monitoring the CCCs activities and being the linking point with stake holders in the high level. The CGCC in Kabare territory will be composed by political and administration authorities, owner of land such as the chief of the collectivity and heads of groupments. The gender issue will be taken into account in the composition of this structure.  The aim of this new structure is to ensure definitely that development activities implemented by the parks authorities meet the real need of local folks a also falls in the developments plan as scheduled by the authorities. In this way Kahuzi Biega national Park is joining step by step the decentralization approach currently advocated by the DRCongo authorities.A two days workshop was organized to this end from the 27th to 28thmarch 2012 in the building of Kamole high school in Kabare territory. The workshop was attended by his majesty Kabare the owner of land, the territory administrator local association for development representatives and of course Kahuzi Biega Staff. Once in place the management council for the community conservation should have among its main role, provide a support in the processes of elaboration of the development plan of Kabare with a special accent on the environment protection, work for the research of fund for the Kabare development activities, implement a coherent system for the evaluation of development plan for Kabare as well as the creation of a synergy gathering different actors intervening in the development and conservation domain in Kabare land .

the member of C.G.C.C are on worhshop

the member of C.G.C.C are on workshop

Apart from administrative and customs authorities the CGCC will be composed by members coming from 14 CCCs existing in Kabare after election of course. Participants have two weeks to set up the management council for the community conservation.Kabare territory is the first experience to this new approach, the park authorities are planning to extend   the same approach to five other sectors surrounding the Park, namely: Tshivanga, Kasese, Itebero, Nzovu et Lulingu.Kahuzi Biega national park a world heritage site managers has started involving surrounding communities in the process of natural resources more than 20 years ago through different communities’ conservation committees.  Currently Kahuzi Biega national park , a world heritage site is seeking for  any support intending to enable the site  to improve the relationship with the surrounding communities and local folk.

Ecological award for retired staff from Kahuzi Biega National park World heritage site

The retired staff waiting for their collations

The retired staff waiting for their collations

The institutional reforms continue its way inside the Congolese park authorities, ICCC.
One of the shutters of this reform was retirement of the growing old employees.In the first wave of the retired staff , 20 heroics guards who deserve rest after more than 30 years of honest services including the protection of gorillas in this World heritage site.With the support of the retirement program, PAR-ICCN from the European Union, the ICCN had just had an envelope allowing him to support the payment of some eligible agents for the retirement.

A ranger ready to be awarded gives honors to the chief warden

A ranger ready to be awarded gives honors to the chief warden

This Sunday on December 11th , 2011; on behalf of the General Director of the ICCN, Pasteur Cosma WILUNGULA, chief warden of KBNP, Mr. Radar NISHULI has organized a cheerful ceremony of handing-over of the certificates service termination, coupled of ecological medal of merit, toward the recipients accompanied by their wives. The retirement is a legitimate right for somebody who served honestly the nation said the Chief Warden. Leaving the service honorifically with the sign of recognition from your employer should be the aspiration each one of us who are still under Congolese Park Authority contract.

Ecological medal held in the neck of the ranger

Ecological medal held in the neck of the ranger

There are still other agents eligible to the retirement but who did not benefit from this honorifically ceremony due to the lack of funds which must cover their final calculation.We launch an appeal toward all individual and organization with goodwill who can help us overcome this challenge, to assist us by providing support which can cover the retirement fees of other eligible staff remaining , as well as to support the renewal of the staff , please contact us to : info@kahuzi-biega.org.

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.

Beyond the Park: part 2

Idjwi Island. A place few people know of and fewer still visit. Yet, at 340 sq km in size and 70 km in length, it is the second largest inland island in Africa and can be seen clearly from both the Rwandan and Congolese mainlands. Still, the island has remained neglected and significantly underdeveloped, with only a few car-free dirt roads criss-crossing the land and linking one tiny village to the next.

A documentary on Idjwi Island by Geo on French television channel Arte entitled “L’île oubliée d’Afrique (Africa’s Forgotten Island)” said “The inhabitants of Idjwi Island on Lake Kivu are poor but benefit from a a very precious good in this region of Africa: peace”. A trip to Idjwi is invariably relaxing, with friendly islanders totally unjaded by tourism greeting you wherever you go with warm smiles and no hassles.

Activities include visiting one of the many pineapple plantations (and of course picking and eating one), village and nature walks, bird-watching, swimming in the lake and interacting with the local people to learn about life on Idjwi. Boat rides can also be organised, taking you around the small islets surrounding the island, where one of the main attractions must be Ishushu 1 and Ishushu 2. Ishushu 1 has a small and beautiful fisherman’s village, and the inhabitants take care of neighbouring Ishushu 2 in the owner’s absence. Pay the fishermen a small tip to guide you through the lush, primary tropical forest on this little piece of paradise, abounding in bird life and also home to a troupe of as yet unidentified monkeys.

         

More information can be found on Idjwi Island on Agence Esperance or through local tour operator Gorilla Travel (email: gorillatravel@ymail.com / Tel: +243 999 666 600, +243 818 105 583).

     

Beyond the park: Part 1

There is much more to our corner of DR Congo than the Kahuzi-Biega National Park, yet until recently many attractions had not been developed for visitors. The ICCN has over the last seven months been working with local communities, businesses and institutions to develop an array of visitor attractions both within and outside the park to realise the immense potential of this destination. Many are now ready for visits, and where better to start than Bukavu, the nearest city at an hour’s drive away.

Bukavu was established in 1901 by the Belgian colonial authorities and is the capital of South Kivu province. This picturesque city of about 250,000 boasts a pleasant subtropical climate and a scenic location between the southern shores of Lake Kivu and the forested mountains inland. The influences of Belgian colonial times can be found in the grand houses bordering the lake, the old cathedral Our Lady of Peace and in the magnificent Collège Alfajiri. This reputed academic institution’s establishment in 1937 heralded the beginning of mixed-race education in the Belgian Congo and yet its history is far from harmonious, being intricately tied in with the tumultuous history of eastern Congo itself. Its grounds were used as a base for a Belgian uprising against Mobutu in the 60s and as refugee camp following the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, and its walls are riddled with the bullet-holes from the subsequent invasion of Rwandan forces. The Collège Alfajiri thus serves as an important reminder of the past whilst at the same time, through its excellent academic programme, holding a key to the regions’s future, .

Royal Court of kabare

Just a forty minute drive from Bukavu, in the direction of the park, you can now for the first time visit the Royal Court of the Kingdom of Kabare. The Royal Kingdom of Kabare has a long and proud tradition as the most powerful kingdom of South Kivu and the erstwhile Mwami Kabare Rugemanizi “Zéro Zéro” was instrumental in the region’s resistance against colonisation and famously slapped a Belgian coloniser in the face. As punishment he was exiled 2,000km away, but brought back 20 years later when the Belgians finally realised that nothing could be achieved without his presence. To this day, the Royal Court retains its traditions and secrets, and visitors can spend time with the Mwami’s wise men who will present some of the objects of symbolic importance to the court, and to listen to the Griot sing the history of Kabare. Visits will finish with an enthusiastic Ntole dance performed by the Bushi villagers.

Ntole dancers

Bordering the park near the Tshivanga entrance lie the stunning high altitude cinchona and tea plantations of Mbayo. Visits typically start at the cinchona plantation (source of quinine) to learn about history of cinchona cultivation in DR Congo, including its collapse due to disease and its current slow recovery. Brave (or foolhardy) visitors may accept to chew on some of the cinchona bark.Visitors then move on to the tea plantation and factory to learn about the entire tea-growing process, « from the leaf to the cup ». Visits are rounded off most pleasantly with a cup of tea at a great viewpoint.

Mbayo tea plantation

A snake in the herpetology lab

A forgotten jewel of our region is Lwiro, about 90 minutes north of Bukavu. This was once a favourite retreat of Belgian colonisers and even Mobutu. Aside from a magnificent landscape and being the entry point for the Tshibati waterfall walk, Lwiro hosts fascinating scientific research centres which have opened their doors for visitors. We spoke about the Centre de Rehabilitation des Primates de Lwiro (CRPL) in our last post, but right next door you find the Centre de Recherches en Sciences Naturelles (CRSN), a research center built by the Belgians in the 1950s, and the Centre Intégral d’Education de Lwiro (CIEL), which aims to educate visitors and local communities about the natural and anthropological history of the region. Visitors will be guided through the biodiversity hall, which includes the skeleton of Casimir, the first ever habituated gorilla, a botanical garden, an anthropological centre, the CRSN’s herpetology lab and the magnificent library.

Centre de Recherche en Sciences Naturelles

Arranging visits

A number of local tour operators can arrange visits/guided tours to all of the above mentioned attractions:

Visits to CIEL and the CRPL can be arranged directly by calling +243 810724524, and to the Mbayo plantations by calling +243 993 839 203, or talking to the reception of the Orchids Hotel.
This post has gone on too long, so we’ll save Idjwi Island and Lake Kivu for the next installment!