Virunga Mountains

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Virunga Mountains
Virunga National Park Landscape.jpg
The summit of Mount Mikeno
Highest point
Peak Mount Karisimbi
Elevation 4,507 m (14,787 ft)
Dimensions
Length80 [1]  km (50 mi)
Geography
Virunga Mts Landsat 2007-01-31.jpg
Countries Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Uganda
Mount Nyiragongo Nyiragongo2004.jpg
Mount Nyiragongo
Gahinga (left) and Muhabura (right) GahingaMuhabura.png
Gahinga (left) and Muhabura (right)
Muhabura, Gahinga, Karisimbi, Sabyinyo and Mikeno VirungaPeaks2013.png
Muhabura, Gahinga, Karisimbi, Sabyinyo and Mikeno

The Virunga Mountains (also known as Mufumbiro [1] ) 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".

Volcano A rupture in the crust of a planetary-mass object that allows hot lava, volcanic ash, and gases to escape from a magma chamber below the surface

A volcano is a rupture in the crust of a planetary-mass object, such as Earth, that allows hot lava, volcanic ash, and gases to escape from a magma chamber below the surface.

East Africa Eastern region of the African continent

East Africa or Eastern Africa is the eastern region of the African continent, variably defined by geography. In the United Nations Statistics Division scheme of geographic regions, 20 territories make up Eastern Africa:

Rwanda Country in Africa

Rwanda, officially the Republic of Rwanda, is a country in Central and East Africa and one of the smallest countries on the African mainland. Located a few degrees south of the Equator, Rwanda is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Rwanda is in the African Great Lakes region and is highly elevated; its geography is dominated by mountains in the west and savanna to the east, with numerous lakes throughout the country. The climate is temperate to subtropical, with two rainy seasons and two dry seasons each year.

Contents

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 and in January 2010. 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.

Mount Nyiragongo volcano

Mount Nyiragongo is an active stratovolcano with an elevation of 3,470 m (11,380 ft) in the Virunga Mountains associated with the Albertine Rift. It is located inside Virunga National Park, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, about 20 km (12 mi) north of the town of Goma and Lake Kivu and just west of the border with Rwanda. The main crater is about two kilometres wide and usually contains a lava lake. The crater presently has two distinct cooled lava benches within the crater walls – one at about 3,175 m (10,417 ft) and a lower one at about 2,975 m (9,760 ft). Nyiragongo's lava lake has at times been the most voluminous known lava lake in recent history. The depth of the lava lake varies considerably. A maximum elevation of the lava lake was recorded at about 3,250 m (10,660 ft) prior to the January 1977 eruption – a lake depth of about 600 m (2,000 ft). A recent very low elevation of the lava lake was recorded at about 2,700 m (8,900 ft). Nyiragongo and nearby Nyamuragira are together responsible for 40% of Africa's historical volcanic eruptions.

Mount Karisimbi mountain

Mount Karisimbi is an inactive volcano in the Virunga Mountains on the border between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. 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.

Mount Sabyinyo mountain

Mount Sabyinyo is an extinct volcano in eastern Africa in the Virunga Mountains. 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.

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.

Mountain gorilla subspecies of the eastern gorilla

The mountain gorilla is one of two subspecies of the eastern gorilla. It is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List, as the total population is estimated to comprise 1,004 individuals in two populations as of 2018. One population lives in Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, and the other in the Virunga Mountains in three adjacent national parks, namely Uganda's Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park, and Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

IUCN Red List inventory of the global conservation status of biological species

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, founded in 1965, has evolved to become the world's most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species. It uses a set of criteria to evaluate the extinction risk of thousands of species and subspecies. These criteria are relevant to all species and all regions of the world, With its strong scientific base, the IUCN Red List is recognized as the most authoritative guide to the status of biological diversity. A series of Regional Red List are produced by countries or organizations, which assess the risk of extinction to species within a political management unit.

Habitat destruction is the process by which natural habitat becomes incapable of supporting its native species. In this process, the organisms that previously used the site are displaced or destroyed, reducing biodiversity. Habitat destruction by human activity is mainly for the purpose of harvesting natural resources for industrial production and urbanization. Clearing habitats for agriculture is the principal cause of habitat destruction. Other important causes of habitat destruction include mining, logging, trawling, and urban sprawl. Habitat destruction is currently ranked as the primary cause of species extinction worldwide. It is a process of natural environmental change that may be caused by habitat fragmentation, geological processes, climate change or by human activities such as the introduction of invasive species, ecosystem nutrient depletion, and other human activities.

List of mountains in the Virunga Mountain Range

Name of mountainLocationElevation in MetresElevation in Feet
Mount Karisimbi Rwanda / DRC 4,50714,790
Mount Mikeno DRC4,43714,560
Mount Muhabura Rwanda / Uganda 4,12713,540
Mount Bisoke Rwanda / DRC3,71112,180
Mount Sabyinyo Rwanda / Uganda / DRC3,67412,050
Mount Gahinga Rwanda / Uganda3,47411,400
Mount Nyiragongo DRC3,47011,400
Mount Nyamuragira DRC3,05810,031

National Parks

Virunga National Park national park

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 altitude, 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.

Democratic Republic of the Congo Country in Central Africa

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as DR Congo, the DRC, DROC, Congo-Kinshasa, or simply the Congo, is a country located in Central Africa. It is sometimes anachronistically referred to by its former name of Zaire, which was its official name between 1971 and 1997. It is, by area, the largest country in Sub-Saharan Africa, the second-largest in all of Africa, and the 11th-largest in the world. With a population of over 78 million, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the most populated officially Francophone country, the fourth-most-populated country in Africa, and the 16th-most-populated country in the world. Currently, eastern DR Congo is the scene of ongoing military conflict in Kivu, since 2015.

Volcanoes National Park national park

Volcanoes National Park lies in northwestern Rwanda and borders Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. The national park is known as a haven for the rare and endangered mountain gorilla and golden monkeys. It is home to five of the eight volcanoes of the Virunga Mountains, and spans 160 km2 covered in rainforest and bamboo. The park was the base for the zoologist Dian Fossey.

In culture

Michael Crichton American author, screenwriter, film producer

John Michael Crichton was an American author, screenwriter, and film director and producer best known for his work in the science fiction, thriller, and medical fiction genres. His books have sold over 200 million copies worldwide, and over a dozen have been adapted into films.

<i>Congo</i> (novel) novel by Michael Crichton

Congo is a 1980 science fiction novel by Michael Crichton. The novel centers on an expedition searching for diamonds and investigating the mysterious deaths of a previous expedition in the dense tropical rainforest of the Congo. Crichton calls Congo a lost world novel in the tradition founded by Henry Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines, featuring the mines of that work's title.

<i>Gorillas in the Mist</i> 1988 American drama film directed by Michael Apted

Gorillas in the Mist is a 1988 American drama film directed by Michael Apted and starring Sigourney Weaver as the naturalist Dian Fossey. It tells the true story of her work in Rwanda with mountain gorillas and was nominated for five Academy Awards.

See also

Related Research Articles

Geography of Rwanda

Rwanda is located in central Africa, to the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, at the co-ordinates 2°00′S30°0′E.

Dian Fossey American zoologist, gorilla researcher

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.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park national park in Uganda

The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (BINP) is in south-western Uganda. The park is part of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and is situated along the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) border next to the Virunga National Park and on the edge of the Albertine Rift. Composed of 331 square kilometres (128 sq mi) of both montane and lowland forest, it is accessible only on foot. BINP is a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization-designated World Heritage Site.

Karisoke Research Center

The Karisoke Research Center in Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park 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 mountain

Mount Muhabura, also known as Mount Muhavura, is an extinct 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. Muhabura is partly in the Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda and partly in the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Uganda.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park national park in 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 mountain

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 meters wide. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park also got its name from this volcano. Mount Gahinga, whose elevation is 3,474 meters, is part of a chain of 8 volcanic mountains of the Mufumbiro ranges. The volcano chain spans across Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Albertine Rift

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.

Eastern gorilla species of mammal

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. Grauer's gorilla, formerly known as the eastern lowland gorilla is more populous, at about 3,800 individuals. The mountain gorilla has only about 1000 individuals. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature mentioned illegal hunting in its assessment of threats to the species.

Digit Fund charity for the protection of endangered mountain gorillas

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.

Albertine Rift montane forests

The Albertine Rift montane forests ecoregion, of the tropical moist broadleaf forest biome, are in the heart of Afromontane tropical central Africa.

Mount Bisoke mountain

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.

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

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 mountain

Mount Mikeno is a dormant volcanic mountain located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo section of the Virunga Mountains along with Mount Nyiragongo, Mount Nyamuragira, Mount Karisimbi, and Mount Bisoke. 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.

International Gorilla Conservation Programme organization

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.

Rwenzori-Virunga montane moorlands montane grasslands and shrublands ecoregion of central Africa

The Ruwenzori-Virunga montane moorlands is a montane grasslands and shrublands ecoregion of central Africa.

References

<i>Encyclopædia Britannica</i> Eleventh Edition 11th edition of Encyclopædia Britannica

The Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition (1910–11) is a 29-volume reference work, an edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica. It was developed during the encyclopaedia's transition from a British to an American publication. Some of its articles were written by the best-known scholars of the time. This edition of the encyclopedia, containing 40,000 entries, is now in the public domain, and many of its articles have been used as a basis for articles in Wikipedia. However, the outdated nature of some of its content makes its use as a source for modern scholarship problematic. Some articles have special value and interest to modern scholars as cultural artifacts of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Coordinates: 01°25′45″S29°32′54″E / 1.42917°S 29.54833°E / -1.42917; 29.54833