Belgian colonists, who intended to protect the mountain gorillas on Karisimbi,
Bisoke and Mikeno in Rwanda and the Belgian Congo from poachers, first gazetted
the Virungas as a national park in 1925. This small conservation triangle was
the first protected area to be created on the continent of Africa. Four years later,
the borders were extended further to form Parc National Albert (Albert National Park),
a massive area that encompassed more than 8000 sq km.
Following the independence of the Congo in 1960 and Rwanda in 1962, Albert National Park was split into two entities, the Rwanda portion being assigned the name Parc National des Volcans. During the early years of Rwanda’s fragile independence, it wasn’t poaching or fighting that harmed the gorillas most, but rather a small daisy-like flower known as pyrethrum.