Part of the Rwenzori Mountains – home to some of the last glaciers in Africa and likely Ptolemy’s ‘Lunis Montae’ – has received international recognition as a protected wetland site under the international Ramsar convention, a major conservation decision that will help protect the region’s vast ecological riches.
The Rwenzori Ramsar Site covers a 99,500 hectares area of the mountain region located in western Uganda and bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo. In the DRC, the mountains are part of Virunga National Park, which is also designated as Ramsar and recognized as a World Heritage Site.
The Rwenzori Mountains are one of the only three places in Africa with unique high altitude wetlands, including glaciers at the equator – the other two being Mount Kilimandjaro in Tanzania, and Mount Kenya in Kenya. Located in the western arm of the African Rift Valley, the Rwenzori Mountains act as a natural water tower for the Nile River basin. In 300 AD, the Alexandrine geographer Claudius Ptolemy suggested that the Nile had its source from snow peaks on the Equator, the ‘Lunis Montae’ or ‘Mountains of the Moon’.