The park is Africa’s oldest national park, established in 1925, with a size of over 7800 Square Kilometres. Because of its features, it was classified as a World Heritage Site in 1979, has become known for its mountain gorillas. The national park covers the western shores of Lake Edward, known for its hippopotami (depleted by more than 95 percent in 2006) while elsewhere, marshland, grassland plateau and plains dominate the park.
The Ruwenzori Mountains lie on the Ugandan border and rise to alpine meadows and a glacier, while Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira are both active volcanoes with substantial associated lava plains.
The park was affected by the civil wars in the 1990’s which depleted the lives of wildlife, and most of them escaped, but with the stabilization of the area, more wildlife has influxed the forest because of its vast and unique nature.
The park is managed by the Congolese National Park Authorities, the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN) and receives vital funding from the European Union. In August 2008, Emmanuel de Merode was appointed Director and Chief Warden for the park, commanding a ranger force of 680 men.
In 1979, the park was declared a Unesco world heritage site because of its bio-diversity which include a variety of Flora and Fauna as well as active volcanoes.
The park has gone through much turbulence since its establishments due to political upheavals in the country. From 1925 when the park was established, the park enjoyed stability with many tourists visiting the park for the first 35 years. However, when the country gained independence from the Belgian colonialists, there was instability which was later subsided by Mobutu, the then president. However, in 1980, Mobutu started losing ground and the park saw a lot of poaching, rebel activities which affected tourism in the park. In 1994, the park was labeled unsafe site and was almost no more in terms of tourism.