The park is located in eastern DR Congo, beside the Albertine Rift west of Lake Kivu and the town of Bukavu, close to the international frontiers with Rwanda and Burundi. It is composed of two distinct parts connected by a narrow corridor of forest. The original section of 60,000 ha, which is crossed by the major Bukavu–Kisangani road, has an altitudinal range of 1,800–3,300 m and is centred around Mt Kahuzi (3,300 m) and Mt Biega (2,900 m). It consists mainly of dense primary montane forest with some bamboo, with the remainder woodland, swamp and peatbog. The western extension seeks to conserve a vast undulating tract of transition and lowland forest, varying in altitude between c.600 and 1,500 m, with only the isolated peak of Mt Kamami (1,700 m) and some parts of the corridor rising higher. Areas of old secondary forest mark former settlements, mining camps and fields predating the incorporation of this area into the park. Average annual rainfall is 1,800 mm, with wide yearly fluctuations.
See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. No systematic survey of the park has been undertaken. Additional species of global conservation concern that may be expected to occur include Columba albinucha and Malaconotus lagdeni.
Non-bird biodiversity: The park is important for Gorilla gorilla graueri (EN) (estimated at 4,150 to 10,800 individuals during 1990–1995; as much as 70% of the global population of this taxon is thought to occur within Kahuzi–Biega and Maiko National Parks) and Gorilla gorilla beringei (CR). Six other primates occur, including Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii (EN) (1,300–4,000) and Cercopithecus hamlyni (LR/nt). Other mammals include Loxodonta africana (EN) (1,350–3,600) and Tragelaphus euryceros (LR/nt), while Osbornictis piscivora (DD) has been recorded from the vicinity.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Originally established as a reserve in 1960 to protect 200–300 mountain gorillas Gorilla gorilla graueri, Kahuzi–Biega became a National Park in 1970, was substantially enlarged in 1975 and designated a World Heritage Site in 1980. Although most settlements were abandoned and the inhabitants relocated after the creation of the extension in 1975, some still remain within the park boundaries. The original section of the park used to benefit from gorilla-based tourism. Forest in the Kivu region is generally under great pressure from agriculture and firewood-collection by an ever-increasing population. Significant parts of the park are rarely or never visited by the understaffed team of ICCN guards because of logistical problems. In the area near Bukavu, and for up to 50 km to the north, the forest is being rapidly cleared by agriculturalists. The corridor connecting the highland sector with the lowland extension is particularly affected. The number of people living within the park boundaries may reach 4,000 (0.7 inhabitants/km²). The political turmoil in the region, causing the displacement of many thousands of persons, constitutes a very serious threat to the site’s integrity. The park suffered heavily during the 1996 armed rebellion, and subsequently. Numbers of large mammals have declined drastically. Of particular concern for birds is the burning of significant areas of upland and large-scale incursions in the eastern part, which threaten the integrity of the montane sectors. Mining is a major problem in the lowland sector, where the hunting of bushmeat and habitat conversion is alleged to be taking place as a result of the many miners operating in the park.
BirdLife International (2019) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Kahuzi-Biega National Park. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 21/04/2019.