Albertine Rift


The Albertine Rift is one of the most biodiverse places on Earth.  Since 2000 WCS has been compiling published species lists for various sites where surveys have been made since the 1930s and updating all of the names for changes in nomenclature which have taken place over time.  To date we have documented a total of 1,779 terrestrial vertebrates (mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians) of which 140 are endemic to the Albertine Rift and 78 are classified as globally threatened on the IUCN redlist. 6,409 plant species have also been recorded of which 341 are endemic (although this list is still being improved and may well  increase in number) and 73 are threatened.

Taxon Species Endemic Threatened
Mammals 385 41 36
Birds 1,074 42 25
Reptiles 177 19 2
Amphibians 143 38 15
Plants 6,409 341 73

WCS has used the numbers of endemic and numbers of threatened species it has compiled to identify the priority sites for conservation. The results of this were published in the Albertine Rift Technical Reports Series (No. 3). Effectively the sites in the rift were ranked for the number of endemic mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and plants separately. Mean rankings were then calculated across all these taxa to provide an average ranking and these were then reduced to three categories of high, medium and low ranking sites. This process was repeated for threatened species.  The table below summarises the results. The columns rank the number of threatened species and the rows rank thenumber of endemic  species. Virunga, Kahuzi Biega, Kibale, Bwindi Impenetrable, and Nyungwe National Parks together with the Itombwe Massif and the proposed Ngamikka National Park in the Marungu-Kabogo  Landscape are the priority sites for conservation in the Albertine Rift.

Endemic species High Medium Low
Threatened species

High Virunga NP
Itombwe Massif
Kahuzi Biega NP
Kibale NP
Bwindi Impenetrable NP
Nyungwe NP
Ngamikka Forest/Kabogo
Rwenzori Mts NP
W. Lake Edward
Mahale Mts NP
Echuya FR
Lac Ruzizi NP
Medium Kasyoha-Kitomi FR
Queen Elizabeth NP
Semuliki NP

Budongo FR


Lendu plateau

Kibira NP

Mafuga FR
Bururi FR
Gombe Stream NP
Mbizi FR
Idjwi Island
Low Mweru-Wantipa NP
Murchison Falls NP
Sumbu NP
Bugoma FR
Semliki WR
Kagombe FR
Kyambura WR
Bugungu WR
Karuma WR
Kitechura FR
Matiri FR
Itwara FR
Ibambaro FR
Marungu Massif

Reports include surveys of:

  1. Virunga National Park, DRC
  2. Kahuzi Biega National Park, DRC
  3. Itombwe Massif, DRC
  4. Misotshi-Kabogo, DRC
  5. Nyungwe National Park, Rwanda
  6. Kibira National Park, Burundi
  7. Virunga Volcanoes, DRC, Rwanda and Uganda

However, it was clear that many sites had not been surveyed as well as others or had only been surveyed for certain taxa but not others. This led to a 10 year program to survey the biodiversity of most of the sites in the Albertine Rift. We have primarily focused on large mammals, birds and plants (excluding mosses, liverworts and lichens) but have collaborated with Julian Kerbis Peterhans at the Field Museum in Chicago who is an expert on the small mammals of this region and with Michele Menegon, of the Museo delle Scienze in Trentino, and Eli Greenbaum, at the University of Texas at El Paso, who are studying the reptiles and amphibians here.

We are in the process of using species distribution data we have compiled and collected in surveys we have made to create species distribution models for the endemic and threatened species in collaboration with other scientists. These will then be use in a Marxan analysis to assess the minimum number of sites within the protected areas which are critical for the conservation of all of the endemic and threatened species in the Albertine Rift. We believe this analysis will also identify potential sites outside existing protected areas that need to be conserved also.



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Albertine Rift Program
Plot 802 Kiwafu Rd, Kansanga, PO Box 7487, Kampala, Uganda

Key Staff

Hamlet Mugabe
Ornithologist Officer
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