Ndoki Landscape, Congo

Ndoki Photo
Working with government, industry and community partners, WCS has helped create pristine national parks in the Republic of Congo as well as a community reserve that allows local residents to use and manage natural resources in a sustainable manner.
©David Wilkie

This vast expanse of forest, swamp, and savannah in the north of the Republic of Congo is Africa’s most important stronghold for wildlife. Many of the 125,000 gorillas WCS discovered in northern Republic of Congo in 2008 live in Ndoki, alongside elephants, forest leopard, golden cat, eight species of antelopes, three species of crocodiles, and chimps, including some that have never seen humans.

Located in the heart of the world’s second-largest rainforest, this 23,500-square-mile landscape encompasses two national parks and the Lac Télé Community Reserve, and serves as a vital watershed for the Congo River, helping power Africa’s largest hydroelectric plant. Ndoki is home to fewer than 250,000 humans. Local residents harvest fish and wildlife for household consumption, and many work with the logging companies, which own extensive timber contracts within this landscape and surrounding lands and provide the most jobs of any industry in the Republic of Congo. Strong partnerships with the timber industry and indigenous communities are essential for protecting this extraordinary wilderness and the myriad animal species that reside here.

Fast Facts

  • This landscape covers an area half the size of the state of New York.
  • About 5,000 Baka “pygmies” reside in Ndoki.
  • The world’s largest populations of great apes and forest elephants live here.


Logging is the second-largest industry in the Republic of Congo, and international timber companies continue to create logging roads while the government pushes for the development of a highway and railroad to the capital. These transportation routes not only provide commercial hunters access to the forest, but also facilitate a steady influx of company workers, who create a ready market for bushmeat. Illegal and unsustainable hunting for meat and ivory poses a serious threat to this astounding landscape, as does the destructive harvesting of giant African mahogany trees. The spread of Ebola hemorrhagic fever, a virus lethal to gorillas, chimps and humans, has annihilated many ape populations in neighboring Gabon and threatens to spread further into the landscape. Vaccines have been developed, but delivering them remains a challenge and the national government lacks the resources to monitor the disease and protect the nation’s people and animal species.

WCS Responds

Working with government, industry and community partners, WCS has helped create pristine national parks and develop a community reserve that allows local residents to use and manage natural resources in a responsible, sustainable fashion. We are consulting timber companies on minimizing environmental harm and protecting key habitats, and have already helped one timber company adopt wildlife-friendly practices that led to Central Africa’s first Forest Stewardship Council certification. By training, equipping, and supporting government anti-poaching patrols, we hope to meet our goal of reducing illegal hunting of elephants and great apes to near-zero levels across the landscape.

WCS Projects

Logging Concession in Congo

WCS works with the CIB logging company to reduce the pressures on gorillas, elephants, and other endangered wildlife in four timber concessions and to control the trade in bushmeat. This collaborative project is called PROGEPP: the Project for Ecosystem Management in the Nouabalé-Ndoki Periphery Area.

From the Newsroom

New World Heritage Site in Wild Heart of Central AfricaJuly 2, 2012

Forest elephants congregate en masse within TNS, a new World Heritage Site, sometimes in groups of 100 or more. Nowhere else in the world are this many forest elephants spotted together. 

New Fears for Congo’s Elephant HavenJune 11, 2012

No elephants are immune from increased poaching in the Republic of Congo. WCS advocates doubling the number of guards monitoring the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park and surrounding areas, one of the few safe havens where elephant numbers have remained stable.

How to Stop Wildlife Poachers May 25, 2012

WCS VP for Species Conservation Liz Bennett details efforts to combat the illegal wildlife trade and highlights the urgent need for additional security forces to slow and ultimately reverse the decimation of myriad charismatic species.

Sizing Up Congo’s SilverbacksMay 1, 2012

Researchers working in the Republic of Congo find that bigger adult male western lowland gorillas have a better chance of attracting mates and raising healthy offspring. The study looked at overall body length and the size of head crest and gluteal muscles in 19 silverbacks at Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park.

Chimp Haven Gets an UpgradeFebruary 16, 2012

The Republic of Congo formally expands Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park to help protect a rare population of chimps, known for both their skillful tool use and greenness to people.


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