WCS Congo

Ndoki Landscape

At the heart of the world’s second largest rainforest lies a vast, wild expanse of forest, swamp and savannah, Africa’s most important stronghold for wildlife. Over half of the world’s gorillas – a full 140,000 – live here, alongside 45,000 elephants and 15,000 chimpanzees, including some that have never seen humans. Eleven monkey species, forest leopard and golden cat, eight species of antelopes, and three species of crocodiles call this landscape home. In the north of the Republic of Congo, the Ndoki Landscape encompasses Nouabalé-Ndoki and Odzala National Parks, the Lac Télé Community Reserve, and extensive logging concessions and unclassified lands. Fewer than 250,000 people (including 5,000 Baka “pygmies”) inhabit this 23,500 square mile landscape, an area half the size of New York State.

Most families harvest fish and wildlife and tend small fields; some work with logging companies. Covering two-thirds of the landscape, Ndoki’s timber concessions provide Congo’s second largest source of foreign exchange and largest source of employment. Ndoki’s forests are a globally important carbon store, an extraordinary ecotourism destination, and a vital watershed for the Congo River, feeding Africa’s largest hydroelectric plant.

Threats to Ndoki’s wildlife include illegal and unsustainable hunting for bushmeat and ivory facilitated by logging roads and rapid development, and the serious risk to apes and people posed by Ebola hemorrhagic fever. WCS has been committed to this landscape for more than twenty years. We have helped the government create Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park, secured resource rights for households of Lac Télé, and helped a timber company adopt wildlife-friendly practices leading to Central Africa’s first Forest Stewardship Council certification.

Our vision for the coming decade: Africa’s greatest stronghold for forest wildlife, with pristine national parks buffered by sustainably managed community areas and wildlife-friendly logging concessions, sustaining abundant populations of gorillas, elephants, chimpanzees and other wildlife protected from illegal hunting and disease such as Ebola. To realize this vision, new private investment of $7 million is required. Together with $6 million in secured private funds, this will leverage an estimated $54 million from conservation partners and public donors. With this support, Ndoki will thrive as the living heart of the Central African rainforest. WCS is ready to ensure that Ndoki remains Africa’s première stronghold for forest wildlife. Over 20 years, we have built trusting and formal partnerships with the Ministry of Forest Economy, the people of Ndoki, and the logging companies in the landscape to deliver tangible conservation successes.

 

Conservation Challenges

Illegal and unsustainable hunting and wildlife disease gravely threaten Ndoki’s wildlife and ecosystems. Elephants are illegally poached for export of ivory to Asia. All mammals, from porcupines and small antelopes to great apes and elephants, are hunted for food. While subsistence hunting by indigenous people can be sustainable, commercial harvest of wildlife for sale in logging camps and growing urban centers is not. As forests are emptied of wildlife to meet market demands from afar, indigenous peoples’ livelihoods, food security, and culture are all put in jeopardy. When WCS first surveyed Ndoki in the 1980s, most of the forest was pristine but unprotected. Since that time, WCS and the people of the Ndoki Landscape have helped establish the Nouablé-Ndoki National Park and the Lac Télé Community Reserve. Economic pressures have increased, however, and almost all of the forest surrounding the park has been leased to international timber companies. Logging roads provide commercial hunters access to the forest and logging company workers provide a ready market for bushmeat. Recently, an international road was completed to Cameroon, and work is underway on a highway and railroad to the capital, Brazzaville, threatening to further escalate the long-distance bushmeat trade. The spread of Ebola, a virus lethal to gorillas and chimpanzees as well as humans, has annihilated many ape populations in neighboring Gabon and in the north of Odzala National Park, and is moving across the landscape from west to east. The future impact of Ebola in Ndoki is unknown. Vaccines have been developed, but delivering them remains a challenge, and Government capacity to monitor the disease effectively to protect people and wildlife is inadequate.

Contact

WCS Congo Program
B.P. 14537 Brazzaville, Republic of Congo
+(242) 05 722 7411

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