Rwanda: Gorillas Safe Despite Volcanic Eruption

by Nov 10, 2011Great Apes

Mount Nyamuragira in the Democratic Republic of Congo, located about 25 km north of Lake Kivu, erupted on Tuesday evening, spewing lava into the neighbouring Virunga National Park.

Mt. Nyamuragira is Africa’s and one of the world’s most active volcanoes which erupts approximately every two years.

According to Dr Jean Felix Kinani, a wildlife veterinary officer in the area, lava is flowing within Virunga National Park but presently poses no danger to animals or humans. The park is home to 200 endangered mountain gorillas.

“It is apparently still flowing slowly. It has now reached 18 kilometres within the park but no animal has been affected,” he said in an interview with The New Times.

The vet observed that gases were visible from Musanze town just behind the Bisoke Volcano.

He said that the area where the lava is flowing is not a mountain gorilla habitat, but hastened to add that the territory has many other wildlife species, including antelopes and buffaloes that could be threatened.

Kinani noted that stakeholders in Virunga National Park are closely monitoring the situation to ensure that no animals are affected.

He added that Nyamuragira’s magma has very low viscosity due to low silica content which explains why it is not dangerous contrary to popular belief.

Virunga National Park in DRC is one of the three national parks that form the Virunga massif together with the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda.

Efforts to get a comment from Rwanda Development Board were futile.

The 2010 census reports that the population of mountain gorillas in the Virunga Massif was 480 individuals at the time data was collected.