Lwiro Chimpanzee Sanctuary is found 50 kilometers from Bukavu in the South Kivu, 10 kilometers from Kahuzi Biega National Park headquarters. This sanctuary offers refuge to orphaned chimpanzees whose parents were poached. Being the only chimpanzee and monkey sanctuary in the Kivu region, Lwiro is an important resource for all conservation organizations working in the area and it offers valuable insight into conservation is sues in and around the park. It is a home to more than 100 apes and a new chimpanzee enclosure is recently under construction to boost these apes’ natural habitat. The Center Integral d’Education de Lwiro (CIEL) is managed by Spanish NGO Coopera together with the Centre de Recherches en Sciences Naturelles (CRSN), a research center constructed by the Belgians in the 1950s the CIEL provides visitors a safari through the human and natural history of the region. Attractions in the sanctuary comprise of biodiversity room showcasing the high endemic species in the area, an anthropological center, botanical garden, walk through the CRSN and its herpetology lab and spectacular library constructed by the Belgians.
The Lwiro Chimpanzee Sanctuary is also popular as the Centre for Rehabilitation of primates. It was founded in 2002 by 2 conservation organs of DR Congo; Institut Congolais Pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN) and the Center de Recherché en Science Naturelles (CRSN). This took place from 1998 to 2004 at the time of the second Congo war when poaching used to be rapid and the officials chose to construct a secure haven for orphaned chimpanzees.
COOPERA also joined the 2 organs in 2006 to help with the financing of the project’s maintenance and currently there are 3 bodies together with a range of International donors that combine to provide incredible care for resident animals. The center is recently the main ape rehabilitation centre sustaining about 100 chimpanzees together with 88 monkeys from the 11 distinct species which have been victims of poaching and illegal pet trade. The activities in Lwiro comprise of conservation, ecotourism, reintroduction research and implementation, education, improved habitat management and protection, large primate medicine training, community participation and program development and overall capacity building.
How to reach Lwiro Chimpanzee Sanctuary in DR Congo
If you are planning to visit the Lwiro Sanctuary for chimpanzee watching of the orphaned chimpanzees, there are several options to allow you get to this sanctuary centre. It is found 50 kilometers from Bukavu town, 10 kilometers from Kahuzi Biega National Park headquarters and five kilometers from Kavuma airport. It is situated along the road from Bukavu to Goma on the secondary road to tourists visiting the Tibeti falls; while at Lwiro, drive to Tibeti falls which is seven kilometers high to arrive at the point where vehicles stop and begin the nature walk to visit the falls in Kahuzi Biega National Park, crossing through the former farms of the colonial masters amd Mobutu. This sanctuary is found on the eastern flank of Lake Kivu between latitude 2 degrees 15’ and 2 degrees 30’ and longitudes 28 degrees 45’ and 28 degrees 85’ east. It gets its water from Lwiro River which originates from Kahuzi Biega National Park mountain region at an altitude of 2000 meters.
Accommodation in Lwiro Sanctuary
For interested visitors, you can book a Congo Gorilla Tour and spend a night in any of the lodges around Kahuzi Biega National Park. You can spend a night at Lwiro chimpanzee guest house or alternatively there is camping.
What to see and do in Lwiro sanctuary
At Lwiro, there are several chimpanzees as well as baboons and monkeys which offer visitors opportunity to view spectacular primates, visit the local community, birding safaris and adventure species in DR Congo.
Best time to visit Lwiro chimpanzee sanctuary
Safaris to this sanctuary are all year round especially from the months of January to December. Most preferably, the best time to visit the sanctuary depends on traveler’s interest but while planning your safaris to DRC, the south Kivu or Bukavu town Congo experiences tropical climate conditions.
The people of DR Congo
The Congolese are friendly and helpful and the Eastern Congo has the most stunning landscapes of mountains and Lakes. Lwiro is found near Kahuzi Biega National Park-a home to Eastern Lowland gorillas. You can spend a night over at Lwiro guest house and enjoy the chimpanzee feeding in the center.
The future objective of the sanctuary; the short term goals of the CRPL are the welfare of the apes in their care and to increase the holding capacity of the sanctuary for the future confiscations. The ultimate goal of all partners at the CRPL is to see the release of all able bodied animals back into the wild. Working towards reduction in apes poaching and therefore minimizing the number of new arrivals to CRPL and ensuring the local wild populations remain stable through habitat protection and enhanced attitudes toward their protective status through education and public awareness campaigns.
In conclusion, Lwiro chimpanzee sanctuary offers refuge not only to orphaned chimpanzees but also some birds, baboons and visitors can catch a glimpse at the spectacular scenic views of the area. Enjoy your chimpanzee viewing while in your safaris in DR Congo.