Rwanda is one of the only three countries where mountain gorillas live in the world. These great apes are well protected in the Volcanoes National Park, one of the oldest African protected area. Volcanoes National Park was part of the Albert National Park (known as Virunga National Park) which was gazetted a national park in 1925. After Rwanda attaining its independence, the Rwandan part was kept as Volcanoes National Park.
The park is part of great Virunga conservation zone and it is the favorite destination for gorilla trekking in Africa. The purpose of making this a protected area was to save the Mountain Gorillas, which were intensively hunted and on the brink of extinction by poachers. The gorillas were hunted for their bush meat, body parts for medicinal purposes and for zoos. The Gorillas, prior to being confined to the forest, encroached on human crops which angered the local people.
Today Volcanoes National Park in north western Rwanda is part of the greater Virunga region exceeding 8000km2 wide, harboring eight volcanic mountains and three protected areas that extend ebeyond the Rwanda borders into Uganda (Mgahinga National Park) and th Democratic Republic of Congo (Virunga National Park). Massive tectonic forces combined with volcanic activity raised the Virunga region 1200m- 4500m above sea level later on giving rise to high altitudinal vegetation growth of thick bamboo, afro-montane and thickets on the hills.