Nyungwe National Park

Country/territory: Rwanda

IBA criteria met: A1, A2, A3 (2001)
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Area: 100,000 ha

IBA conservation status
Year of assessment (most recent) State (condition) Pressure (threat) Response (action)
2013 not assessed medium high
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Site description (2001 baseline)
Nyungwe forest is situated in south-west Rwanda between Lake Kivu and the international border with Burundi, where it is contiguous with Kibira National Park (BI002). Nyungwe is divided north–south by a line of mountains that reach 2,600–2,900 m and which form part of the Congo–Nile watershed. As a result, Nyungwe is composed of two areas differing in pedology, vegetation, water-flow and biodiversity. The soils in the western section are schists and support dense forest between 1,700–2,000 m. The eastern part, on granitic soils, lies higher (2,200–2,500 m) and the vegetation here is, characteristically, secondary forest with many clearings. Over 250 tree species have been recorded. The forest is dominated by Chrysophyllum, Entandophragma and Newtonia at lower altitudes. Syzygium guineense, Carapa grandiflora, Parinari excelsa, Strombosia, Symphonia, Beilschmiedia and Ocotea usambarensis are found in mature forest. Macaranga, Maesa and Harungana and Neoboutonia occur in secondary areas, while Hagenia is found along roads and around the eastern depression. On the summits and rocky soils the forest is dominated by Philippia benguellensis and Erica kingaensis. Extensive stands of bamboo Arundinaria alpina occur in the south-east. Numerous montane bogs occur, of which the largest, in Kamiranzovu Crater in the west, is c.900 ha. Average annual rainfall is in the range 1,500–2,500 mm; amounts decline from west to east, with the south-west the wettest.

Key biodiversity
See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. A total of 275 species have been recorded in Nyungwe, reflecting the wide habitat diversity and altitudinal range. The presence or status of some species requires confirmation including, in particular, that of Phodilus prigoginei, Muscicapa lendu and Nectarinia rockefelleri, which are all globally threatened, restricted-range and biome-restricted. An additional six species of the Guinea–Congo Forests biome are known from Nyungwe from one or two records only and may no longer occur (Table 3). After the Itombwe mountains (CD013) in eastern DR Congo, Nyungwe is the probably most important forest for the conservation of montane birds in the region; it is certainly the most important in Rwanda.

Non-bird biodiversity: Although plant diversity is high, the level of endemism is low, with Pentadesma reindersii and a few herbaceous species and orchids currently only known from Nyungwe. Thirteen species of primate occur including Pan troglodytes (EN), Colobus angolensis ruwenzorii (VU), Cercopithecus l’hoesti (LR/nt), C. hamylni (LR/nt) and, although very rare here, C. mitis kandti (EN). One species, Cercopithecus ascanius, is almost extinct locally due to the clearance of the lower-altitude forest; Nyungwe is the only site in Rwanda from which it was known. Nyungwe holds many Albertine Rift endemics, including seven of the 12 species of Soricidae, one species of bat, Rousettus lanosus, two species of squirrels, Funisciurus carruthersi (VU) and Heliosciurus ruwenzori, five of the 12 species of Muridae and the chameleon Chamaeleo johnstoni). An amphibian is endemic to Nyungwe, the caecilian Boulengerula fischeri. Two species of butterfly are endemic to Nyungwe (Bebearia dowsetti and Acraea turlini) while Papilio leucotaenia (VU), restricted to a small area of the Albertine Rift, occurs commonly in Nyungwe.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Nyungwe National Park. Downloaded from on 27/09/2023.