Facts About Nyungwe Forest in Nyungwe National Park: Nyungwe Forest is a high-altitude montane tropical rainforest reserve in southern Rwanda that was created in 1933. The protected area covers around 1015 square kilometers. The forest is located in the Albertine Rift, a chain of mountain ranges that extends from western Uganda’s Rwenzori Mountains to eastern DRC Congo, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and northern Zambia. Nyungwe Forest National Park, which borders Kibira National Park in Burundi, is one of Africa’s largest surviving montane rainforests. The Nyungwe forest was recently designated as a National Park, making it East Africa’s biggest protected high-altitude rainforest.
Nyungwe forest’s biodiversity is astounding by African standards and is one of Africa’s most endemic species-rich places. Nyungwe forest, in addition to its biodiversity, is a key water catchment for Rwanda and has various natural resources crucial to Rwanda’s people population. Rwanda is also one of Africa’s most densely inhabited countries, with nearly 8 million people living in the country. Anthropogenic and environmental factors are a persistent danger to the Nyungwe forest.
Facts About Nyungwe Forest in Nyungwe National Park.
The Nyungwe forest is hundreds of thousands of years old, and human existence can be dated back to around 50,000 years ago.
In 1903, Nyungwe Forest was declared a forest reserve, first by the German colonial government and then by the Belgians, with restrictions on clearing and protection of the forest not consistently enforced.
Between 1958-1973, Nyungwe forest was reduced by over 150 km2 due to fires, woodcutting, hunting of animals, and small-scale agriculture. Nearby Gishwati and Virunga forests were also cut in half at this time for agriculture conversion.
Between 1969-1984, Elephant numbers were still in the hundreds in Nyungwe forest and the last buffalo in the forest was killed by hunters in 1974. In 1984, Nyungwe forest was divided into areas that allowed for sustainable use and harvesting of timber. The Government of Rwanda then developed a plan for a buffer zone that can still be seen today.
In 1987, hiking trails were created in Nyungwe Forest National Park with the head trail at Uwinka.
In 1994, a civil war broke out in Rwanda forcing many senior staff to flee Nyungwe forest national park while the junior staff members remained to protect the park.
In 1995, after peace had been restored in the country, the park begins to rebuild and in 2005, Nyungwe was declared a National Park.
In 2010, the Nyungwe Nziza (beautiful Nyungwe) initiative, supported by USAID, began to assist improve ecotourism and economic growth in the area.
The Wildlife Conservation Society launches a three-year Conservation Education and Outreach Program to reduce park threats by teaching residents about the importance of Nyungwe’s biodiversity. Since the program’s inception, participants were conducted multiple informative excursions to the park for local community organizations. They’ve also gone to schools, churches, and other organizations that have strong education initiatives.
Nyungwe Forest Lodge was established as the region’s first five-star institution. It was designed to fit in with the surrounding landscape and is located on the outskirts of the park on a tea plantation.
The Rwanda Development Board opened the Canopy Walk in the park. The Canopy Walk is the first of its sort in East Africa and just the third in Africa. Tourists may watch many animal species and enjoy breathtaking views from this hanging platform.
In 2012, The Nyungwe Nziza initiative received the Global Award from the British Guild of Travel Writers for the finest new tourism project in the world. The initiative was recognized for its efforts to strike a balance between tourists, wildlife, and the agricultural sector. The prize emphasized the 44% increase in visitors within one year of the canopy walk’s deployment as reported by the Rwanda Development Board.
In 2013, The park becomes Africa’s first to train all of its guides as Certified Interpretive Guides. Professional guide certification is now available at the park. Nyungwe forest national park in Rwanda was nominated for the World Travel Awards, which seek to recognize, reward, and celebrate excellence in the tourism industry.
Wildlife in Nyungwe Forest in Nyungwe National Park.
Nyungwe contains one of the most diverse populations of indigenous species in Africa. 14 of the 86 mammal species are native to the Albertine Rift. The forest is home to 14 species of primates, including vast armies of colobus monkeys that can migrate in groups of 300 or more individuals. Throughout the forest, 280 bird species have been found, including 26 Albertine Rift endemics and 121 forest species.
There are additional 43 reptile species, 8 of which are endemic. There are 31 amphibian species extant, 15 of which are endemic. There are several invertebrate species, and Nyungwe is particularly well-known for its rich butterfly populations, which include 21 Albertine Rift unique species. The floral community has around 1100 species, including 137 endemics.
Insect species found in Nyungwe Forest.
Butterflies are the most visually appealing invertebrate species in Nyungwe. Around 120 species have been recognized, with forty of them being indigenous to Nyungwe. On a bright day, the woodland is ablaze with dazzling areas of color.
The driving ant is one of the most well-known invertebrates. These ants live in massive colonies and frequently migrate in columns guarded by bigger ants with pinchers. Vibrations lead the guards to seek out and attack the source of the movement.
These ants are significant predators in the forest. One research in Kibale Forest in Uganda discovered that the entire ant biomass in a particular region was bigger than that of the mammalian predators. In addition, ants consumed more prey by weight than huge predators.
Great Ape and Primate Species found in Nyungwe Forest
When visiting Nyungwe forest national park, there are several Great Ape and primate species which you can find in Nyungwe forest, as well as the Cyamudongo forest including; Chimpanzees, L’Hoest’s monkeys, Owl-faced monkeys, Vervet monkeys, Blue monkeys, Red-tailed monkeys, Mona monkeys, Grey-cheeked Mangabey, Black and White Colobus monkeys, and the Olive baboons among others.
Other mammals found in Nyungwe Forest.
The Giant Forest Squirrel, Yellow-backed Duiker, golden cat, Two-spotted Palm Civet, Black-fronted Duiker, warthog, and Tree Hyrax are among the mammals that you can find in Nyungwe forest, Facts About Nyungwe Forest in Nyungwe National Park
Bird Species in Nyungwe Forest.
Nyungwe forest is the perfect birding site for birding tours in Nyungwe Forest National Park. Among some of the bird species found in the Nyungwe forest include; the Great Blue Turaco, Handsome Francolin, and Cinnamon-breasted Bee-eater among others.
How to Get to Nyungwe Forest National Park.
Flight travel from Kigali International Airport to Kamembe International Airport is available to reach Nyungwe Forest National Park. Once you arrive at Kamembe International Airport, you may either drive 32 kilometers to the national park or charter a helicopter, depending on your budget.
Nyungwe forest in Nyungwe forest national park is located in the Butare district, near the town of Cyangungu in southwestern Rwanda. It is a four to five-hour trip from Kigali to the national park, covering a distance of 225 kilometers. To go to Uwinka Center or Gisakura, one can take a bus or rent a vehicle.