The Virunga National Park (French: Parc National des Virunga), formerly named Albert National Park, is a 7800 square km National Park that stretches from the Virunga Mountains in the South, to the Rwenzori Mountains in the North, in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, bordering Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Rwenzori Mountains National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda.
The park was established in 1925 as Africa’s first national park and is a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site since 1979. In recent years poaching and the Congo Civil War have seriously damaged its wildlife population. The park is managed by the Congolese National Park Authorities; the Institute Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN) and its partner the Africa Conservation Fund (UK).
The park is known for its exceptional bio-diversity, containing more bird, mammal and reptile species than any protected area on the African continent. Although mountain gorillas are now extremely rare and listed as one of the most critically endangered species, successful conservation work has helped to secure the remaining populations. Their populations actually increased during the years of political upheaval in the region (1994–2004), and have continued to do so even throughout the difficult period of 2007-2008. The 2010 Mountain Gorilla census has indicated that the conservation efforts of Virunga have been very successful regarding the Gorilla population. Savanna and forest elephants as well as chimpanzees and low land gorillas can still be found in Virunga, along with Okapi, giraffes, buffaloes and many endemic birds. The neighboring Mount Hoyo area was managed with the park and is home to a population of Bambuti Pygmy people, caves and waterfalls.