A new Garden of Eden in western Africa will protect more than 600 gorillas, along with other threatened species such as chimpanzees, forest elephants, buffalo, and bongo. The government of Cameroon has declared Deng Deng National Park, a 224-square-mile reserve that is approximately the size of the city of Chicago.

The park’s creation follows years of conservation planning and the area’s first gorilla population surveys conducted by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in 2002. The WCS scientists discovered that the former forest reserve contained the northernmost population of western lowland gorillas. Their findings prompted the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife to list Deng Deng as a priority area for protection.

“Deng Deng National Park is a major step toward conserving all of Cameroon’s gorilla populations and wildlife,” said Dr. Steven E. Sanderson, WCS President and CEO. “We applaud the government of Cameroon for continuing to be a leader in conservation and for taking this important step to protect this species.”

WCS and the Cameroon Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife will work together to help conserve Deng Deng’s biodiversity; additional support will come from the French government.

In November 2008, WCS helped Cameroon create Takamanda National Park, which now forms part of an important trans-boundary protected area with Nigeria’s Cross River National Park and protects the Cross River gorilla.