Hagenia abyscinica in the sector of Tshivanga in KBNP

The Afromontane in the highland’s sector of the Kahuzi-Biega National Park is composed by a secondary, primary, swamp and bamboo forests. The different forests grow gradually and are located between 1,800m to 2,600m. It is the home range for gorilla Grauer’s, chimpanzees and other wildlife.

Gorillas have been observed to spend much time in the secondary, swamp and bamboo forests. They travel all year around depending on foods availability.

Chimpanzees travel and spend much time in the primary forest than in the secondary forest. Gorillas are more territorial while chimpanzees spend much time in trees of heights.

The secondary forest is much dominated by trees like Dombeya Goetzini, Hagenia abyscinica, Neobutonia macrocalix, Alangium sp, Maesa lanceolata, Macaranga sp, etc. Vines and shrubs are more abundant.

Gorillas eat seasonally vines, flowers, roots, leaves, some fruits Cyprus in the swamp and bamboo shoots in the bamboo forest. Bush elephants (Loxodonta africana cyclotis) shared the same habitat with chimps and gorillas and foraged almost the same plants.

Unfortunately the devastated war over ten years in the eastern DR Congo made the population of elephants to be killed for three reasons (1) for trophies,(2) living babies traffic and (3) for bush meat trade.
Big negative changes have been observed on the vegetation in the highland of the KBNP. Maybe it is due to the absence of the elephants in this area. Invasive plants of lianas (Sericostachys scandens) began growing in great population early 2000s. These lianas grow and climb any tree and many high trees have been covered or fallen down by these lianas.

Other vegetation dominated in some areas and high trees disappeared in other areas. Hagenia abyscinica trees grew in mass and vines like Urera hypsoledendron and Piper capense grow under the shade of the Hagenia trees and are preferred diets of gorillas.

Hagenia forest resilient at Tshivanga

Hagenia forest resilient at Tshivanga

Old Hagenia trees were observed to fall down and die progressively.

At Tshivanga the headquarters of the KBNP highland areas, about five hectares of Hagenia forest was cut down during the wars. From mid-2000, a new population of young Hagenia abyscinica was observed growing up. Today each tree from the new growth reaches 4-5 meters of height. Urera hypsoledendron and other tender vegetation which is favorite food for gorillas are growing either on trees or on ground. It is the resilience of the Hagenia abyscinica forest again in the surrounding of Tshivanga headquarters.

We are sure to see the Cimanuka gorilla group and the solitary male Mugaruka to travel, feed and make nests in the new forest like their predecessors such as Casmir, Mushamuka, Maheshe and Ninja.

Note: The patriarch Casimir, grandfather of Cimanuka died in 1975 by old age. Other silverbacks and many members of these groups were killed by armed groups between the period of 1993-2003.

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