Flora & Fauna in nyungwe forest national park can be referred to all wildlife species that are found in Nyungwe forest National Park including the plant species and the other species like mammals, birds, reptiles and insects. Nyungwe is located in the southwest part of Rwanda in Albertine rift valley and it happens to be the only tropical mountainous forest to stay green during the ice age. Nyungwe is believed to be the home of a large variety of flora & fauna species of which some are endemics of plants, birds species, reptiles and amphibians, and mammals in Albertine rift than any other forest in the region. As the Albertine Rift is a biodiversity hot-spot, due to the wild animals which fled in during ice age and later some went back but others stayed and never went back. Surprisingly getting to nyungwe for safaris on these flora & fauna species is very simple and in this article we take you through the different species.
Plants of nyungwe (Flora)
Nyungwe forest national park has over 1068 plant species and among them are 68 endemics such as Talenna Rwandensis and the orchid stand which covers 66% of all Rwandan orchid. Nyungwe has 140 orchid species in all 160 species that are found in Rwanda. So Nyungwe is rich in plant species that allows and favors animals to be able to survive in there. Also these plants are a good indicator of a good time for trekking and birding. If you are good at plants it is easy for you to know where animals like primates are or when will they be at a given place and time. If you know when some flowers and plants are in blooming time, then you are sure that birds will be there and also primates searching for fruits.
Although plants in Nyungwe, are rich but have been being threatened by local people around, in many different ways, mostly due to the need of their basics and, money and, Traditional uses. Some trees in Nyungwe plays a great role in Rwandan traditional belief. Others have been economically used by locals by selling their fruit, others were subject to poachers because they are good for timbers, and for furniture making.
History of Flora & Fauna in Nyungwe Forest
Mahogany is a common plant in nyungwe and one of nyungwe national park hiking trails was named Mahogany (Umuyove in Kinyarwanda) due to its dominance in that trail.
Miliantus holistic is one of the popular trees in Nyungwe forest to the community from what they have been benefiting from it. This tree grows delicious fruits and so community used to harvest them illegally and selling them in their local market, till when the park involved community in conservation. The park management set strong rules and regulations after officially gazetting the park in 2004.
Traditional healers also have been threats to the plants in Nyungwe. Back in the years people around the park could not believe that patients would heal without using traditional medicines made from park’s plants. Up to no its being done but at a controlled level.
Collecting wood for fire or for building and other uses was a big issue for the Park. Now the community has been sensitized on the importance of this forest to everyone in Rwanda. Nyungwe offers 75% of Rwandan water and also keeps the neighboring districts have a moderate climate.
Birds of Nyungwe National Park
Bird Species also fall under the flora & fauna category but specifically belong to the fauna bit of it. Many different surveys have been done in Nyungwe national park and that’s why you will always see different articles with a different list of animals and plants. But recently new numbers show 322 bird’s species of which among them 29 are endemics to Albertine Rift. According to surveys that have been done from 1999 to 2009 some were showing 275 bird’s species and others showing between 280 to 300 birds species. So here we all now know the total number of bird species in nyungwe is 322 species of which 29 are endemic. This number includes forest residents, non-forest residents and forest edge species. Nyungwe national park accommodates the most bird species than any other bird watching site in Rwanda although it is the most difficult one because birds in nyungwe will always stay in the canopy of the trees. If you are a patient birder, you will be rewarded for it. Professional birders have named Nyungwe as birders paradise because there is a chance to spot over 15 endemics per excursion.
Mammals of Nyungwe Forest
Nyungwe national park is rich in Flora & Fauna but recognized mostly for the fauna it has in terms of mammals including carnivores and primates. Nyungwe used to have forest elephants, buffaloes and leopards. From the early 1980’s, some survey started to be carried out continuously and other advanced surveys that took place in 2007-2008 using trapping cameras in targeting nocturnals animals. Some of this survey using trapping cameras have been done in the hope of confirming the presence of the Golden Cat and Leopards in Nyungwe. The big mammals that used to be in Nyungwe have been extinct and included forest elephants and buffaloes. Also the duiker and bush pigs left affected hardly but these are still available and are increasing in numbers. In the surveys done on 85 mammals species have been confirmed and around 16 species were confirmed to be endemic in the Albertine Rift. Although the presence of a leopard, golden cat and forest giant hog is still believed to be true. It’s hard to see them though. 12 primate species are confirmed available including L’hoest monkey which is endemic to the Albertine Rift.
There are twelve primate species and many other different mammals and some of the mammals found in Nyungwe national park include: Vervet monkey, Redtail monkey, Owl-faced monkey, L’hoest’s monkey, Blue Monkey, Mona’s monkey, Eastern Needle-clawed Galago, Bosman’s potto, Golden Cat, Marsh Mongoose and Giant Forest Hog.
Nyungwe national park used to be home of the big mammals. Buffaloes and elephants in twenty century and by this time poaching had no measures and no one was there for wildlife reclamation. There was political instability, insecurity and there could not be any chance for fighting for wildlife rights, protection and preservation. Killing an elephant for tusks was possible and the poachers would face no trial. Nyungwe has been accommodating many buffaloes till in the late of 1999 when the last buffalo was killed and it was the beginning of the buffalo extinction in Nyungwe.
Also the same as elephants, Nyungwe had a large number of them and the proof now is the skull which was kept at Uwinka reception center’s educational room. The extinction of elephants is on side of poaching due to political instability in Rwanda mostly from the middle of the 20th century. There are also some stories that say that an unknown number of elephants were swallowed in the swamp’s mud, which later was named elephant swallow swamp (Kamiranzovu swamp). People still believe this although no evidence confirmed this and not even research.
To date nyungwe forest national park is known for harbouring a large population of chimpanzees which attract a number of tourists to come and do chimpanzee trekking in the forest.
Other flora & fauna species in of Nyungwe
Besides all the flora & fauna that has been highlighted, there are 120 species of butterflies which have been confirmed to be in nyungwe which engage the insect lovers in the park. There are also 12 amphibian species that have been found and 15 Reptile species confirmed.