Rwanda is undoubtedly a wildlife paradise. The country is remarkably diversified, boasting three national parks and three ecosystems within 10,000 square miles. It is home to rare mountain gorillas, rhinoceroses, lions, zebras, elephants, giraffes, and over 700 bird species. Visiting Rwanda is a must for every wildlife lover.
With about 300 species reported, including nearly 30 Albertine Rift endemics, Nyungwe National Park is a birder’s dream. The IUCN has classified 13 endangered, vulnerable, or near-threatened species. The dense undergrowth makes finding birds more challenging, but uncommon species like the Rwenzori turaco and Grauer’s swamp-warbler might be well worth the effort.
The Nyungwe forest has high species variety and endemism, making it a conservation priority. Regarding primates, 13 species can be found here, from the common chimpanzee to endemic species such as L’Hoest’s monkey (Cercopithecus l’hoesti) and Hamlyn’s (Cercopithecus l’hoesti).
The Rwenzori colobus has been seen in a single group of 400 individuals, the biggest group of any primate ever documented on the continent. Several woodland animal investigations have yielded a list of 96 species, including 63 rodents and bats and 16 indigenous mammals. Thus, the IUCN lists eleven species as threatened, plus another five as near-threatened. There are also over 30 amphibian and reptile species and over 120 butterfly species.
The park covers the whole Nyungwe forest, but natural savannah sections are scattered throughout, allowing for even more species variety. The vegetation changes from giant trees to ferns to bamboo as the height rises from 1,900 to 3,000 meters. Nearly 1,100 plant species have been identified, including 200 trees and 140 orchids. More endemic species have been reported here than in any other forest in the region, indicating that this distinct setting has created a high level of endemism among plants and animals. Nyungwe has reported twenty-one of the Albertine Rift region’s 24 unique flora. Nyungwe’s conservation team has detected three endemic species to Nyungwe: Impatiens kagamei, Impatiens nyungwensis, and Begonia pulcherrima.