This protected area in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a stronghold for the Eastern Lowland Gorilla, a close relative of the Mountain Gorilla found only in DRC.
Suffering from years of civil unrest throughout the civil war and even after it officially ended, the rangers work in tough conditions with minimal equipment or support – large areas of the park have been largely inaccessible since 1996 due to the presence of armed militias. Born Free has supported the park since 2000 with whatever is most needed at the time. This has ranged from constructions to vehicles, computers to medicines, and printing costs for the park newsletter to funds for the Community Conservation Committees on the park boundary.
1980s – Gorilla-viewing tourism important revenue for Kahuzi-Biega
1990 – Armed uprising in Rwanda sparks instability in region
1994 – Rwandan genocide, hundreds of thousands of refugees flee into Zaire
1996 – Start of ‘first Congo war’, erupting out of ethnic tensions in Kivu province
1997 – Laurent Kabila seizes power, renames country ‘Democratic Republic of Congo’
1998 – Start of ‘2nd Congo war’, involving nine African nations, killing 3.8 million people
2001 – Laurent Kabila assassinated, replaced by son Joseph
2002 – Official end of 2nd Congo war – ‘ceasefire agreement’.
2003 – Establishment of ‘transitional government’. Militia attacks continue throughout Kivu province
2004 – May sees ’14 day war’, Bukavu overrun by militia who ransack park headquarters
2006 - The Transitional Government came to an end as Joseph Kabila was sworn in as President
2008 - Rebel offensive at the end of October 2008 causes a refugee crisis
2010 - Civil insecurity continues… but so does gorilla conservation