THE POLE POLE FOUNDATION
29 years protecting gorillas in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
Photo: The Earthshot Prize
Where We Work
Read a little bit about the Kahuzi-Biega National Park in the South Kivu region of the DRC.
The Park is named after Mt. Kahuzi (3,308m) and Mt. Biega (2,790m) which are located in South Kivu Province, in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
It spreads from the Congo River basin near Itebero-Utu to the northwest of Bukavu, and is very near to the borders with Rwanda and Burundi.
In 1937, for the protection of the Eastern Lowland Gorillas (gorilla beringei graueri), the Belgian colonial administration created the Zoological Reserve of Mt. Kahuzi which covered an area of 750 sq. km.
In 1970 it was reduced to 600 sq. km. and renamed Kahuzi-Biega National Park.
In 1975 the area was increased to 6,000 sq. km. Since this extension, the park has been composed of two sectors - the high and the low altitude sectors - linked by a narrow ecological ‘corridor’.
In 1980 the Kahuzi-Biega National Park was given extra protection by being designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
During the terrible Rwandan civil conflict of 1990-1994, a huge number of refugees came to live in and around the Kahuzi-Biega National Park. The area was further affected by two major wars; the First Congo War (November 1996 - May 1997) and the Second Congo War (August 1998 - July 2003).
Consequently, the Park has been put on the list of World Heritage Sites in Danger since 1997, due to the overwhelming threats and dangers caused by political instability, the influx of refugees, illegal settlers, poaching, the removal and burning of timber, illegal mining activities, and the presence of militia groups.
Thankfully, today the situation is much-improved and the Park Authority, the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN), is operating vigorously to monitor the gorillas and protect the Park.
You can visit the official blog of the Kahuzi-Biega National Park at http://kahuzibiega.org