Nyungwe Forest National Park is located in south western Rwanda and it boarders Democratic Republic of Congo in the west while in the south it boarders with Burundi. The Nyungwe rain forest is one of the pre historic forests that are known to have survived the last ice age and s apparently the most well conserved forest in the highlands of central Africa. Located in the water shed divide of River Congo and River Nile, Nyungwe forest shelters some of the remote sources of the Nile River. Nyungwe National Park was established in 2004 covering an area of 970km2 of the rain forest, grassland, bamboo, bogs and swamps.
The nearest town is Cyangungu and it lies in the west 54 kilometers from the Park while the highest point in the Park is Mount Bigugu which entirely lies within the park boundaries. Nyungwe forest is counted as one of the geographical hot spots with a position in African conservation priorities. The range of biodiversity concentration stems from availability of bio-geographical zones that forms various terrestrial biomes resulting into long span of microhabitats. Nyungwe Forest National park comprises of 13 primate species, 1068 plant species, 275 bird species, 85 mammal species, 38 reptile species and 32 amphibian species.
Nyungwe Forest National Park is considered as an Important Bird Area by the Bird life International justifying its worth regarding bird population conservation. The forest park has numerous counts of montane forest birds. It has 278 species of birds of which 26 of these are restricted to the Albertine rift. Birds of Nyungwe include among the following; Turacos such as the Rwenzori Turaco, Grauer’s Rush Warbler, Red-throated Alethe, Apalis argentea, Kungwe Apalis Purple-breasted and Blue-headed, Ruwenzori Apalis, Alehe poliophrys, Black-and-white-casqued Hornbill, Stripe-breasted Tit Parus fasciiventer, Ruwenzori Batis, Batis diops, Caprimulgus ruwenzorii, Ruwenzori Nightjar Archer’s Robin-chat Cossypha archeri, Dusky Crimson Wing, Shelley’s Crimsonwing Handsome Francolin, Francolinus nobilis, Cryptospiza jacksoni, Cryptospiza shelleyi, Hemitesia neumanni, Red-collared Babbler, Kupeornis rufocinctus, Melaenornis ardesiacus, Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, Regal Sunbird Cinnyris regius and Neumann’s Warbler.
Nyungwe Forest National Park rises to 3000 meters in altitude above sea level forming varying ecosystem that in turn supports a range of wildlife. Nyungwe forest contains good counts of Chimpanzees and Angola colobus. The forest has other primate species including; Silver Monkey (Cercopithecus doggetti), L’Hoest’s Monkey (Cercopithecus l’hoesti), Adolf Friedrich’s Golden Monkey (Cercopithecus kandti), Angola Colobus (Colobus angolensis ruwenzori), Red-tailed Monkey (Cercopithecus ascanius), Dent’s Mona Monkey (Cercopithecus denti), Hamlyn’s Monkey (Cercopithecus hamlyni), Vervet Monkey (Chlorocebus pygerythrus), Grey-cheeked Mangabey (Lophocebus albigena) and Olive Baboon (Papio anubis).
Nyungwe forest is one of the prehistoric forests in East Africa and is known to have survived the last ice age. With this background, Nyungwe has great concentration of flora with 200 species of trees, flowering plants, giant lobelia and counts of beautiful orchids. The forest has various vegetation zones as per the altitude. The sub alpine vegetation marked by bamboo, shrubs like Podocarpus, Phillipia, bamboo, Erica johnstonii thrive at 2950m while upland species of trees like Podocarpus, Syzygium, Macaranga, Balthacaria, Hagenia thrive at 2500m. Tall tree species and fern species like Carapa, Entandophragma, Newtonia, Polycscias, Symphonia, Cyathea manniana thrive at 2250m while taller species of trees like Carapa, Newtonia, Engtandophragma, Prinaria exelsium, Cyathea manniana thrive at 1900m. Epiphytes like mosses, ferns, orchids and other plants exist high in the trees which demonstrating the traits of moist mountain rainforests. Entandrophragma excelsum or African mahogany is one of the largest trees in the forest.
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