The Minister of Forestry Economy of the Republic of Congo announced today plans to create two new protected areas that together could be larger than Yellowstone National Park, spanning nearly one million hectares (3,800 square miles). Instead of bison and elk, these new protected areas contain elephants, chimpanzees, hippos, crocodiles, and some of the highest densities of gorillas on earth. The announcement was made by Minister Henri Djombo and officials from the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) at the United Nations.
"We are delighted that the Republic of Congo continues to take a leadership role in safeguarding its world-class wildlife and wildlands for generations to come," said Dr. John Robinson, WCS executive vice president for conservation and science. "This is an extraordinary achievement for the entire Congo basin region."
"The Republic of Congo depends on forest resource use for economic development, but it is also deeply committed to biodiversity conservation and sustainable forest management. It has already set aside an estimated 11 percent of the country's surface area as protected areas, 90 percent of which is tropical forest. Establishing these new protected areas reinforces the protected area network portfolio and affirms this commitment," said Henri Djombo, Congo's Minister of Forestry Economy
The first new protected area to be created, will be called Ougoue-Lekiti National Park, and lies in the western part of the country. It will adjoin Bateke National Park in Gabon, which was established with WCS's help in 2002. Together this transboundary protected area will safeguard some 600,000 hectares (2,300 square miles). The northern half of Ougoue-Leketi contains a vast and ancient sand dune system, and is covered by large grass and wooded savanna patches separated by fine lines of dense gallery forest, along with a multitude of small lakes and river valleys. The south and west of the new park supports an intact block of Chaillu forest and the Ougue River basin along which a series of important natural forest clearings are used by forest elephants and other large mammals.
Until recently the region contained lions – unusual to the Congo Basin – though poaching may have wiped out the population. The Savanna landscape still supports such rare species as Grimm's duiker (a small antelope species), side-striped jackal, and rare birds including Denham's bustard. Inside its forests roam elephants, forest buffalo, bush pigs, leopards, gorillas, chimpanzees and several monkey species.
The second protected area to be created in the coming year – Ntokou-Pikounda – lies southeast of Odzala Kokoua National Park, which is well-known for one of the highest gorilla populations in the world. WCS conservationist Dr. Mike Fay identified parts of this area as the "Green Abyss" in 2000, during his "Mega-transect," an expedition co-sponsored by National Geographic. Fay also recorded extremely high densities of great apes in the region's broad Marantacae forests.
Even though the deadly Ebola virus has decimated great ape populations in nearby regions of northern Congo and Gabon, preliminary surveys of Ntokou-Pikounda by WCS and the Government of Congo indicate that this region still contains healthy gorilla and chimpanzee numbers, and may in fact support some of the highest great ape densities on the planet. Along with great apes, this mosaic of swamp forest, clearings, and mixed forests region contains elephants, chimpanzees, crocodiles, hippos, as well as rare and threatened birds such as crowned eagles and many species of hornbills. According to WCS, large mammal populations are still relatively strong because many core areas are beyond the current reach of bushmeat hunters, leaving relatively undisturbed habitat.
"These two new protected areas are a tremendous addition to the Republic of Congo's protected-area network and to global protection of biodiversity," said Dr. Paul Elkan who directs WCS's Congo program. "The Ougoue-Lekiti will protect a critical ecotone zone, a block of intact Chaillu forest, a mix of savanna and forest wildlife. The Ntokou-Pikounda forest will be a stronghold for great apes and forest elephants. There is already a great deal of local community support for the creation of both these protected areas. We look forward to working with the Congolese Government in making these effective protected areas and foundations for landscape scale management in the Congo basin."
During its recent visit to the U.S., the Congolese Government also announced several other initiatives aimed at improving conservation of its forests, including rehabilitation of neglected protected areas, supporting ecotourism of existing national parks, and investigating more cross-border conservation with neighboring countries.
Stephen Sautner | EurekAlert!
Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
A new indicator for marine ecosystem changes: the diatom/dinoflagellate index
21.08.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...
Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
20.09.2017 | Life Sciences
20.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
20.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy