The Kabobo Natural Reserve in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), one of Africa's most biodiverse sites, had its boundaries formally approved today by the Provincial Governor of Tanganyika Province—a critical step in establishing and ensuring the effective protection of this important site.
Covering 570 square miles (or 1,477 square kilometers), the new reserve is one of the most biodiverse sites in Africa. To date, 558 terrestrial vertebrates and 1,410 plant species have been documented there.
In the 1950s, Belgian scientists discovered the Prigogine's black and white colobus monkey (a subspecies of the Angolan colobus) in the area, plus the Kabobo apalis (a bird known only from there), but civil war and insecurity over the ensuing decades prevented further work or its protection.
A 2007 survey by WCS led to the discovery of four mammal species new to science as well as three new plant species. Scientists believe there are additional new amphibian species there, but these need genetic analyses.
The forest (which also includes the adjacent Ngandja Reserve and Luama Katanga Reserve) is estimated to contain at least 2,500 chimpanzees plus hippos, elephants, and lions.
Following the biological surveys, a socioeconomic survey was conducted. It showed the importance of the forest and woodlands to people's livelihoods, as well as the desire to establish some form of protected area to maintain traditional lands for the people of the region as well as to conserve important cultural sites.
In 2009, WCS started to work with local communities to explore the options. Later, each village participated in mapping the reserve's borders.