Maiko National Park

Lying east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Maiko is a National Park divided into 3 sectors that spread in a total area of about 10,885Km². It is shared by provinces of North Kivu, Orientale and Maniema.  The national park is bordered by Lake Kivu to the East and the town of Kisangani to the West at a distance of about 515Km. It stretches from Oslo river and extends north to the Lindi River with an elevation that rises from about 600 to 1300m altitude. The parks history dates back as early as 1949 when it was declared hunting reserve by the Belgian Colonial administration, Bakumu Hunting Reserve. The word Bakumu is derived from the name of the native tribe in the region, ‘Kumus’. However, the original plan for the park is believed to have been preventing the exploitation of mineral resources and protecting wildlife. Following the assassination of Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, a rebel group known as Simba took refuge in the park in 1964. The word samba is derived from the Swahili language of Kenya and Tanzania which means Lion. Led by Gaston Soumialot and Christophe Gbenye, most of the Simba members were from the Kivu and Orientale provinces. The Simba group made a living by carrying out poaching and illegal mining in the park.

A Presidential Decree no.70-312 signed by Joseph Desire Mobutu was declared on the 20th November 1970 clearly asserting Maiko as a nature protection area. All the migrants were to leave the area of the park following the presidential decree. In 2005, a non-government organization, The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund; which was put in place to commemorate and carry on the act of conserving Gorillas and protecting wildlife from poaching; initiated by Dian Fossey; conducted the first Surveys in the park, in the southern sector; and documented a gorilla population increase compared to the past years of study. Dian Fossey was an American Anthropologist, primatologist and zoologist, who operated mainly in Rwanda. She was based in the Volcanoes National Park, north of Rwanda, along the Border with DRC in the East. She was murdered on the 26th December 1985 at the age of 53. She is believed to have been murdered by poachers who saw her as a threat to the abolishing the act.

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