Highlights and Main Attractions of Gishwati-Mukura National Park
Established in 2016, Gishwati-Mukura is Rwanda’s newest national park, after Volcanoes, Akagera and Nyungwe Forest. The park is composed of the Gishwati Forest to the north and the Mukura Forest to the south, the former of which suffered huge deforestation following the Rwandan genocide of 1994, when refugees began to clear the forest to make way for farms. The much smaller Mukura Forest was officially protected as a wildlife reserve for over half a century prior to its elevation to national park status, but its area was still reduced by almost 50% during this time as a result of illegal mining and the aforementioned refugee crisis.
Today, Gishwati-Mukura’s joint national park status offers these ecosystems greater protection and has ensured their flora and fauna will not only survive, but thrive. Thanks to reforestation efforts and Rwanda’s increasingly stable political climate, Gishwati Forest alone has grown by around 1,000 acres over the last few years. A buffer zone of trees grants another line of protection to the national park, while plans for a wildlife corridor that will connect the forests of Gishwati, Mukura and Nyungwe bodes well for the survival of the region’s endangered species.
Here travellers can track habituated groups of chimpanzees, while four other primate species can also be sighted here: the blue monkey, golden monkey, L’Hoest’s monkey and black-and-white colobus. Some 84 species of bird live here – including wood hoopoes, warblers and the Rwenzori turaco – while other resident animals include the serval, red river hog, black-fronted duiker, Great Lake bush viper, southern tree hyrax and multiple species of toad and chameleon. Visitors to Gishwati-Mukura will have the chance to witness a rich yet historically beleaguered ecosystem on the road to recovery.