Salonga-Lukenie-Sankuru Forest, Congo (DRC)
- Salonga-Lukenie-Sankuru Forest, Congo (DRC) Photo
- ©Tim Collins
Salonga National Park covers more than a third of the immense Salonga-Lukenie-Sankuru Forest ecosytem in the central basin of the Congo River. Isolated and accessible only by water, this lowland region provides habitats for many endangered species, such as the bonobo (dwarf chimpanzee), Congo peacock, forest elephant, bongo, and African slender-snouted crocodile.
- Salonga National Park alone encompasses almost 5 percent of the entire Congo Basin rainforest.
- At nearly 13,900 square miles, the park is the second largest relatively intact tropical rainforest reserve in the world.
Illegal hunting and political unrest are the most immediate threats to conservation in Salonga National Park. During the civil war of 1996–1999, armed rebel groups in the area carried out widespread illegal hunting. Forest elephants, for example, are highly threatened after decades of unchecked poaching for ivory. This forest can support at least 20,000 elephants, but only 2,000 remain. Bonobos are threatened by hunting for meat and the live animal trade. Though logging companies are scarce in the region, the area’s current peace and relative stability may lead to an upsurge in logging activity and new roads that facilitate access to natural resources.
WCS has been instrumental in providing critical information on wildlife (bonobo and elephants) to the DRC Government, and has developed a monitoring strategy that aims to improve wildlife conservation in key areas of the park.
Recent inventories of forest elephants
have found previously undocumented populations, many living near freshwater habitats where they seek food and are safer from poachers. WCS has also confirmed that approximately 13,000 bonobos are living in the park
In addition to surveying large mammal populations in this region, WCS is studying the role of this relatively pristine native forest ecosystem in carbon sequestration
. Research has shown that undisturbed forests hold three times more carbon than previously thought. We are also providing training, equipment, and support for anti-poaching operations, and technical advice to park service personnel.
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