Wildlife of Congo
The rainforests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo contain great biodiversity, including many rare and endemic species, such as both species of chimpanzee: the common chimpanzee and the bonobo (also known as the Pygmy Chimpanzee), mountain gorilla, okapi and white rhino. Five of the country’s national parks are listed as World Heritage Sites: the Garumba, Kahuzi-Biega, Salonga and VirungaOkapi Wildlife Reserve. The civil war and resultant poor economic conditions have endangered much of this biodiversity. Many park wardens were either killed or could not afford to continue their work. All five sites are listed by UNESCO as World Heritage In Danger. National Parks, and the
This ecoregion, combined with the neighboring Eastern Congolian Swamp Forests , contains one of the largest continuous areas of swamp forest in the world. Although relatively few species have been recorded, it remains largely intact and contains large populations of western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla). Poaching is thought to have reduced populations of forest elephants (Loxodonta africana cyclotis) along the navigable waterways. Little research has focused on this region, and further efforts are necessary to better understand these forests and their species composition. There are no protected areas.
Equatorial forest covers much of the Republic of Congo’s landscape, stretching from the Massif de Chaillu and Mayombe forests in the south to enormous tracts of primary forest in the north. The country’s remote northern forests harbor the highest known gorilla densities, including an estimated 125,000 western lowland gorillas discovered by WCS researchers in 2007. These forests form part of the larger Congo Basin, a region that spans six countries and contains a quarter of the world’s tropical forests.
Republic of Congo WSC
The Republic of Congo is home to more than 400 mammal species, 1,000 bird species, and nearly 10,000 plant species, of which 3,000 are found nowhere else. Its forests have long been a source of food and shelter for hunter-gatherer societies, who have been hunting duikers, bush pigs, monkeys, and other mammals for generations. Animal products such as skins, horns, feathers, and bones play important roles in cultural and religious ceremonies. However, as human populations grow and their natural resource base continues to shrink due to industrial exploitation, they seek access into formerly remote areas. Increasingly, roads crisscross the forest, and urban societies are putting down new roots there. As a result, many of the region’s large mammals, such as forest elephants, western gorillas, and chimpanzees, have become endangered.
From famous forest elephants to the obscure Charaxes butterflies, the Congo River Basin has earned a global reputation for the variety of wildlife found inside its forests.
These contain a major share of the African continent’s biodiversity: more than 60% of butterflies and passereaux birds, and more than 80% of African primates.1
Some of the world’s most spectacular and endangered wildlife lives in Central Africa, including one-half of the remaining elephants on the continent. Ten thousand species of plants (of which 3,000 are found nowhere else), 1,000 species of birds, and 400 species of mammals , 216 species of amphibians, 280 species of reptiles and more than 900 species of butterflies are found here.
But while these forests are rich in the numbers of species by world standards, they actually have smaller numbers than other tropical rainforests throughout the planet.
The rivers of the Congo River Basin are especially rich in aquatic biodiversity, with most species unique to the region (endemic).
A blog on bonobo research in Congo – great photos
For the past 17 years WCS-Congo has been assisting the Ministry of Forestry Economy (MEF) in managing wildlife and its habitat in national parks, reserves, and buffer zones in the Republic of Congo.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC; formerly Zaire) occupies a vast swathe of land in the centre of the African continent. The same size as Western Europe, the country is home to the mighty Congo River, some of the last remaining unexplored wildernesses on the planet, and a whole slew of primates from chimpanzees and bonobos to lowland and mountain gorillas.
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