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|Elevation||4,507 m (14,787 ft)|
|Length||80 km (50 mi)|
|Countries||Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Uganda|
The Virunga Mountains (also known as Mufumbiro) are a chain of volcanoes in East Africa, along the northern border of Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Uganda. The mountain range is a branch of the Albertine Rift Mountains, which border the western branch of the East African Rift. They are located between Lake Edward and Lake Kivu. The name "Virunga" is an English version of the Kinyarwanda word ibirunga, which means "volcanoes".
The mountain range consists of eight major volcanoes. Most of them are dormant, except Mount Nyiragongo 3,462 metres (11,358 ft) and Mount Nyamuragira 3,063 metres (10,049 ft), both in the DRC. Recent eruptions occurred in 2006, 2010 and May 2021. Mount Karisimbi is the highest volcano at 4,507 metres (14,787 ft). The oldest mountain is Mount Sabyinyo, which rises 3,634 metres (11,923 ft) above sea level.
The Virunga Mountains are home of the critically endangered mountain gorilla, listed on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species due to habitat loss, poaching, disease, and war (Butynski et al. 2003). The Karisoke Research Center, founded by Dian Fossey to observe gorillas in their native habitat, is located between Mount Karisimbi and Mount Bisoke.
|Name of mountain||Location||Elevation in Metres||Elevation in Feet|
|Mount Karisimbi||Rwanda / DRC||4,507||14,790|
|Mount Muhabura||Rwanda / Uganda||4,127||13,540|
|Mount Bisoke||Rwanda / DRC||3,711||12,180|
|Mount Sabyinyo||Rwanda / Uganda / DRC||3,674||12,050|
|Mount Gahinga||Rwanda / Uganda||3,474||11,400|
Rwanda is located in central Africa, to the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, at the co-ordinates.
Dian Fossey was an American primatologist and conservationist known for undertaking an extensive study of mountain gorilla groups from 1966 until her 1985 murder. She studied them daily in the mountain forests of Rwanda, initially encouraged to work there by paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey. Gorillas in the Mist, a book published two years before her death, is Fossey's account of her scientific study of the gorillas at Karisoke Research Center and prior career. It was adapted into a 1988 film of the same name.
Mount Karisimbi is a stratovolcano in the Virunga Mountains on the border between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is currently dormant. At 4,507 metres (14,787 ft), Karisimbi is the highest of the eight major mountains of the mountain range, which is a part of Albertine Rift, the western branch of the East African Rift. Karisimbi is flanked by Mikeno to the north, Bisoke to the east and Nyiragongo to the west, on the other side of the Rift Valley. Karisimbi is the 11th highest mountain of Africa.
The mountain gorilla is one of the two subspecies of the eastern gorilla. It is listed as endangered by the IUCN as of 2018.
Volcanoes National Park is a national park in northwestern Rwanda. It covers 160 km2 (62 sq mi) of rainforest and encompasses five of the eight volcanoes in the Virunga Mountains, namely Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabyinyo. It borders Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. It is home to the mountain gorilla and the golden monkey, and was the base for the primatologist Dian Fossey.
Virunga National Park is a national park in the Albertine Rift Valley in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It was created in 1925 and is among the first protected areas in Africa. In elevation, it ranges from 680 m (2,230 ft) in the Semliki River valley to 5,109 m (16,762 ft) in the Rwenzori Mountains. From north to south it extends about 300 km (190 mi), largely along the international borders with Uganda and Rwanda in the east. It covers an area of 8,090 km2 (3,120 sq mi) and is listed in the List of World Heritage in Danger since 1994.
The Karisoke Research Center is a research institute in Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park. It was founded by Dian Fossey on 24 September 1967 to study endangered mountain gorillas. Fossey located the camp in Rwanda's Virunga volcanic mountain range, between Mount Karisimbi and Mount Bisoke, and named it by combining the names of the two mountains.
Mount Muhabura, also known as Mount Muhavura, is an inactive volcano in the Virunga Mountains on the border between Rwanda and Uganda. At 4,127 metres (13,540 ft) Muhabura is the third highest of the eight major mountains of the mountain range, which is a part of the Albertine Rift, the western branch of the East African Rift. Its summit contains a small crater lake. The limited evidence for this volcano suggests that it last erupted some time in the Holocene, but the exact date is not known. Muhabura is partly in the Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda and partly in the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Uganda.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is a national park in southwestern Uganda. It was created in 1991 and covers an area of 33.9 km2 (13.1 sq mi).
Mount Gahinga is a dormant/extinct volcano in the Virunga Mountains on the border between Rwanda and Uganda. Gahinga lies between Muhabura and Sabyinyo, but is the smallest of these three. Mount Gahinga, also known in the local Kinyarwanda/Rufumbira dialect as "a small pile of stones", has a swampy caldera on its peak. The caldera is believed to be about 180 m (591 ft) wide. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park also got its name from this volcano. Mount Gahinga, whose elevation is 3,473 m (11,394 ft), is part of a chain of eight volcanic mountains of the Mufumbiro ranges. The volcano chain spans across Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Albertine Rift is the western branch of the East African Rift, covering parts of Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania. It extends from the northern end of Lake Albert to the southern end of Lake Tanganyika. The geographical term includes the valley and the surrounding mountains.
The eastern gorilla is a critically endangered species of the genus Gorilla and the largest living primate. At present, the species is subdivided into two subspecies. The eastern lowland gorilla or Grauer’s gorilla is more populous, at about 3,800 individuals. The mountain gorilla has only about 1,000 individuals. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature mentioned illegal hunting in its assessment of threats to the species.
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International is a charity for the protection of endangered mountain gorillas. The Digit Fund was created by Dr. Dian Fossey in 1978 for the sole purpose of financing her anti-poaching patrols and preventing further poaching of the mountain gorillas. Fossey studied at her Karisoke Research Center in the Virunga Volcanoes of Rwanda. The non-profit fund was named in memory of Fossey's favourite gorilla, Digit, who was decapitated by poachers for the offer of US$20 by a Hutu merchant who specialized in selling gorilla heads as trophies and gorilla hands as ashtrays to tourists.
The Albertine Rift montane forests is a tropical moist broadleaf forest ecoregion in east-central Africa. The ecoregion covers the mountains of the northern Albertine Rift, and is home to distinct Afromontane forests with high biodiversity.
Mount Sabyinyo is an extinct volcano in eastern Africa in the Virunga Mountains. Mount Sabyinyo is the oldest volcano of the range. It is north-east of Lake Kivu, one of the African Great Lakes, and west of Lake Bunyonyi in Uganda. The summit of the mountain, at 3,669 metres (12,037 ft), marks the intersection of the borders of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Rwanda, and Uganda, and holds religious significance to local tribes. It also is within the adjoining national parks established by these countries: Virunga National Park in the DRC, the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda.
Mount Bisoke is an active volcano in the Virunga Mountains of the Albertine Rift, the western branch of the East African Rift. It straddles the border of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but the summit is located in Rwanda. It is located approximately 35 km northeast of the town of Goma and adjacent Lake Kivu.
The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a large primeval forest located in south-western Uganda in the Kanungu District. The forest is on the edge of the Albertine Rift, the western branch of the East African Rift, at elevations ranging from 1,160 to 2,607 metres.
Mount Mikeno is an extinct volcanic mountain located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo section of the Virunga Mountains along with Mount Nyiragongo, Mount Nyamuragira, Mount Karisimbi, Mount Bisoke and Mount Sabyinyo. At 4,437 metres (14,557 ft) Mount Mikeno is the second highest peak in the Virunga Mountains after Karisimbi, and the 13th highest mountain of Africa. Mikeno means "poor" and is so named for its harsh slopes which preclude human habitation.
The International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP) was formed in 1991 to ensure that the critically endangered mountain gorillas are conserved in their habitat in the mountain forests of the Virunga Massif in Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The Ruwenzori-Virunga montane moorlands is a montane grasslands and shrublands ecoregion of central Africa.
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