Kahuzi Biega National Park is home to flora and fauna of exceptional diversity which make it one of the most important sites in the Albertine Rift Valley, itself one of the ecologically richest regions in Africa and globally. In particular, the world’s largest population of eastern lowland (or Grauer’s) gorillas, a subspecies endemic to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List , uses the mosaic of habitats found in the property.
Criteria that made the PNKB inscribed on the World Heritage List:
Kahuzi-Biega National Park is home to more mammal species than any other Albertine Rift site. It is the second most important site in the region both for endemic species and in terms of specific richness. The park has 136 species of mammals, including the starring eastern lowland gorilla and 13 other primates including endangered species such as chimpanzees, red colobus, and Hoest’s and Hamlyn’s monkeys.
Other extremely rare species from the forests of eastern DRC are also present there, such as the giant genet (Genetta victoriae) and the aquatic genet (Genetta piscivora). Mammals characteristic of the forests of Central Africa also live in the park such as the forest elephant, the forest buffalo, the giant forest hog and the bongo.
PNKB is located in an important area of endemism (Endemic Bird Area) for birds identified by BirdLife International. The Wildlife Conservation Society compiled a comprehensive bird list for the park in 2003 with 349 species including 42 endemics.
Similarly, the park was also recognized as a Center of Diversity for plants by IUCN and WWF in 1994 with at least 1,178 species listed in the high altitude zone, the lower part still to be inventoried.
The park is one of the rare sites in sub-Saharan Africa where the low to high altitude flora and fauna transition can be observed. It includes all stages of forest vegetation ranging from 600 m to more than 2,600 m, from dense humid forests at low and medium altitudes to submontane forests up to montane and bamboo forests. Above 2,600 m to the summit of the Kahuzi and Biega mountains, a subalpine vegetation with heather has developed, hosting the endemic plant Senecio kahuzicus.
The park is also home to generally uncommon plant formations such as marshes and high altitude peat bogs and swampy and riparian forests on hydromorphic soils at all altitudes.