Highlights and Main Attractions of Rumangabo

Virunga National Park’s heavily fortified headquarters offer protection for three species of great apes. At the Senkwekwe Centre, staff provide care and support for orphaned mountain gorillas found in the wild - the only such facility in the world. Opening in 2009, the centre has cared for a number of individuals who have lost their parents to snares, poachers or animal traffickers. Within their forested enclosure, the orphans are looked after by dedicated carers, who play with them, feed them a healthy diet and monitor them for any signs of health or behavioural changes. They also receive expert veterinary care from Gorilla Doctors, an initiative that NWS includes in our conservation efforts.

No mountain gorilla orphan has ever been successfully returned to the wild, making the work done at Senkwekwe vital to the survival of this critically endangered species.

In addition to the mountain gorilla orphans, the staff at Senkwekwe also help to rehabilitate eastern lowland gorillas. Although not permanent residents here, the work done by Senkwekwe’s staff allows the eastern lowland gorillas – also known as Grauer’s gorillas – to be moved to the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Centre (GRACE) to the west of Virunga, a facility designed specifically for the care of this subspecies. A small group of chimpanzees also call the area around Rumangabo home, having been separated from the rest of their kin by a flow of lava from nearby Mount Nyamulagira. Since the discovery of the chimps in 2014, the Frankfurt Zoological Society have been working to habituate them to the presence of humans.

Where is Rumangabo?

Meet the Neighbours

Ndakasi and Ndeze are the two longest-serving residents of Senkwekwe, both of whom were brought to the centre shortly after it opened. Back in 2007, these two females both suffered the loss of their mothers, who were killed in separate incidents by armed assailants. Too young to survive without their mothers’ milk, the rangers who found the orphans brought Ndakasi and Ndeze back to Senkwekwe, where they were nursed back to health by the committed staff there. Today, the pair are inseparable, and form close bonds with their fellow bereaved gorillas who are introduced into this makeshift family.

In 2013, a male mountain gorilla named Matabishi joined the group after being found alone in a cornfield outside of Virunga. At the time of his discovery, Matabishi was unusually habituated to humans and bore a wound on his back that indicated the former presence of a rope restraint, suggesting he may have been a victim of traffickers who had held the infant captive for some time. Despite this, Matabishi has integrated well into his new family. The latest addition to the group will be Yalala, a young female who had to have her foot amputated due to the injuries caused by a poacher’s snare. As she learns to adapt to her new life, the doctors at Senkwekwe are soon hoping to introduce her to her fellow residents.

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