|Elevation||5,109 m (16,762 ft)|
|Length||120 km (75 mi)|
|Country||Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo|
The Rwenzori Mountains, previously called the "Ruwenzori Range" (spelling changed around 1980 to conform more closely with the local name "Rwenjura"), and sometimes the "Mountains of the Moon", is a mountain range of eastern equatorial Africa, located on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Rwenzori Mountains support glaciers and are one source of the river Nile.
The Rwenzori Mountains reach heights up to 5,109 metres (16,762 ft). The highest Rwenzori peaks are permanently snow-capped. Rwenzori Mountains National Park and Virunga National Park are located in the range.
The mountains formed about three million years ago in the late Pliocene epoch and are the result of an uplifted block of crystalline rocks including gneiss, amphibolite, granite, and quartzite. They are on the flanks of the Albertine Rift, the western branch of the East African Rift.
The range is about 120 kilometres (75 mi) long and 65 kilometres (40 mi) wide. It consists of six massifs separated by deep gorges: Mount Stanley (5,109 metres (16,762 ft)), Mount Speke (4,890 metres (16,040 ft)), Mount Baker (4,843 metres (15,889 ft)), Mount Emin (4,798 metres (15,741 ft)), Mount Gessi (4,715 metres (15,469 ft)), and Mount Luigi di Savoia (4,627 metres (15,180 ft)). Mount Stanley has several subsidiary summits, with Margherita Peak being the highest point. The rock is metamorphic, and the mountains are believed to have been tilted and squeezed upwards by plate movement. They are in an extremely humid area and frequently enveloped in clouds.
Photographer Vittorio Sella took a number of photographs showing a now-vanished world. Sella's photographic work is conserved at the Museo Nazionale della Montagna in Turin and at the Istituto di Fotografia Alpina Vittorio Sella in Biella, both in Italy. The Makerere University, Uganda, also has a selection of his images.
The first traverse of the six massifs of the Rwenzori Mountains was done in 1975, starting on 27 January and ending on 13 February. The traverse was done by Polish climbers Janusz Chalecki, Stanisław Cholewa, and Leszek Czarnecki, with Mirosław Kuraś accompanying them on the last half of the traverse.[source needs translation]
The Rwenzori are known for their vegetation, ranging from tropical rainforest through alpine meadows to snow. The range supports its own species and varieties of giant groundsel and giant lobelia and even has a six metre high heather covered in moss that lives on one of its peaks. Most of the range is now a World Heritage Site and is covered jointly by the Rwenzori Mountains National Park in southwestern Uganda and the Virunga National Park in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
There is no water shortage in the Rwenzori. Yet several members of the afroalpine family resemble species that normally thrive in desert climates. The reason lies in their similar water economy. Although abundantly present, water is not always readily available to the afroalpine plants when they need it. The nightly frosts affect the sap transport in the plants, and the intake of water by its roots. As the day begins, the air temperature and radiation level rise rapidly, putting strenuous demands on the exposed parts of the plants. It is vital to meet the transpiration demands of the leaves, and maintain a proper water balance. To counter the effects of freezing, the afroalpine plants have developed the insulation systems which give them such a striking appearance. As a rule, these adaptive trends become more prominent as the altitude rises.
There are 5 vegetation zones in the Rwenzori Mountains. These are grassland (1000–2000 m), montane forest (2000–3000 m), bamboo/mimulopsis zone (2500–3500 m), heather/Rapanea zone (3000–4000 m) and the afro-alpine moorland zone (4000–4500 m). At higher altitudes, some plants reach an unusually large size, such as lobelia and groundsels. The vegetation in the Rwenzori Mountains is unique to equatorial alpine Africa.
Glacial recession in Rwenzori
An ongoing concern is the impact of climate change on Rwenzori's glaciers. In 1906, the Rwenzori had 43 named glaciers distributed over six mountains with a total area of 7.5 square kilometres (2.9 sq mi), about half the total glacier area in Africa. By 2005, less than half of these were still present, on only three mountains, with an area of about 1.5 square kilometres (0.58 sq mi). Recent scientific studies, such as those by Richard Taylor of University College London, have attributed this retreat to global climate change and have investigated the impact of this change on the mountain's vegetation and biodiversity.
- "Climate Change and the Aquatic Ecosystems of the Rwenzori Mountains". Makerere University and University College London. 15 September 2007. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
- Wayland, E. J. (July–December 1934). "Rifts, Rivers, Rains and Early Man in Uganda". Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. 64: 333–352. doi:10.2307/2843813. JSTOR 2843813.
- "Rwenzori Mountains National Park". Rwenzori Abruzzi. 27 May 2006. Archived from the original on 2008-03-05. Retrieved 6 May 2008.
- Flowers of the Moon, Afroalpine vegetation of the Rwenzori Mountains, Schutyser S., 2007, 5 Continents Editions, ISBN 978-88-7439-423-4.
- Wielka Grań Ruwenzori 1975, Wojtera T., Taternik iss 3. 1976.
- H. Peter Linder and Berit Gehrke (2 March 2006). "Common plants of the Rwenzori, particularly the upper zones" (PDF). Institute for Systematic Botany, University of Zurich. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-05-30. Retrieved 2008-05-06.
- "RWENZORI MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK, UGANDA". Protected Areas and World Heritage. United Nations Environment Programme. March 1994. Archived from the original on 25 March 2008. Retrieved 8 May 2008.
- "Forest Resources of Tropical Africa". Tropical Forest Resources Assessment Project (reprint ed.). Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 1984. UN 32/6.1301–78–04. Retrieved 12 May 2008.
- Tom Knudson, [In the Mountains of the Moon, A Trek to Africa’s Last Glaciers], Yale Environment 360 Report, 4 Feb 2010
- [Rwenzori Glaciers (East Africa)], Tropical Glaciology Group, Innsbruck University
- Glaciers of the Middle East and Africa, Williams, Richard S., Jr. (editor) In: U. S. Geological Survey Professional Paper, 1991, pp.G1-G70
- Guide to the Ruwenzori, Osmaston,H.A., Pasteur,D. 1972, Mountain Club of Uganda. 200 p.
- Recession of Equatorial Glaciers. A Photo Documentation, Hastenrath, S., 2008, Sundog Publishing, Madison, WI, ISBN 978-0-9729033-3-2, 144 pp.
- Tropical Glaciers, Kaser, G., Osmaston, H.A. 2002, Cambridge University Press, UK. 207 p.
- Ruwenzori, de Filippi, F. 1909. Constable, London. 408 p.
- Greenpeace article "The Death of the Ice Gigantaurs"
- BBC Article "Fabled ice field set to vanish"
- Dr Taylor's Homepage, with information about the impact of climate change on Rwenzori.
- Kaser et al. 2006, in International Book of Climatology 24: 329–339 (2004)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ruwenzori Range.|
|Wikisource has the text of the 1920 Encyclopedia Americana article Ruwenzori.|
- World Wildlife Fund (2001). "Ruwenzoris". WildWorld Ecoregion Profile. National Geographic Society. Archived from the original on 2010-03-08.
- UWM.edu: 1937 aerial photographs of Rwenzori Mountains — University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries Digital Collections.
- Beach, Chandler B., ed. (1914). "Ruwenzori". The New Student's Reference Work. Chicago: F. E. Compton and Co.