In-Sights: The Region
Lwiro Primate Sanctuary & Research Institute (DR Congo)
50 kilometres /30 miles off the stunningly scenic peninsulas of Bukavu lies a surprising colonial research complex and hi-tech primate enclosures. This is Lwiro, a must stop on the way to the Grauer’s gorillas of Kahuzi-Biega national park.
In 1947 the Belgians erected a research institute here, with a grand library as its centerpiece, that still continues its pursuit of knowledge as the Research Centre for Natural Sciences. Local schools and institutions bring people to Lwiro to expose them to nature, but also to see functional artifacts of the local culture.
Even though an introduction to gorillas is available here, it’s outside the colourful walls that the biggest attraction awaits … At the end of the second war of Congo (1998-2003), a lot of infant chimpanzees appeared around Kahuzi-Biega National Park, so a decision was made to help these orphans giving them long-term care.
When poachers kill adults for bush meat, they might carry their babies away to sell them as pets. … But they are only cute until they reach sexual maturity. This sanctuary of the Congolese wildlife authority and the Spanish NGO Coopera is the orphans’ best hope, as they get a home in Lwiro.