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Gabon, Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic – 10,000 Birds

Sizzling summer time days, typically reaching 40C/104F, time to open one other beer and dream of birding some cooler place, a spot the place deep shade of tall timber controls the warmth… Maybe the world’s second largest rainforest?

The Congo is without doubt one of the deepest rivers on the earth with depths typically exceeding 220 meters (720 toes). The Congo Basin, second in measurement solely to the Amazon, spans six international locations: south-eastern Cameroon, parts of southern Central African Republic, the north and central Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and the Republic of Congo.

The Congo Basin is 300,000 sq. miles (777,000 sq. kilometres) in measurement and its forests retailer 25 per cent of tropical forest carbon. On the identical time, 50% of the Congo Basin forest has now been allotted for logging and this area loses near 1.5 million hectares of forest cowl every year. Logging roads have opened up huge areas to business searching, resulting in industrial-scale poaching and a greater than 60 per cent drop within the area’s Forest Elephant inhabitants in lower than a decade. Due to poaching and illness mixed, the Western Lowland Gorilla’s numbers have declined by greater than 60% over the past 20 to 25 years. Trying ahead, the largest threats to the Congo rainforest come from industrial plantations, particularly for palm oil, rubber, and sugar manufacturing.

Lango Camp deck overlooking Lango Baï, by Congo Conservation Firm

The forests of the Congo Basin include greater than a 1,000 species of birds, along with 400 species of mammals, together with Okapi, Hippos, Leopards, Chimpanzees and Bonobos. The Congo Basin is the one place to shelter all three subspecies of gorilla: the Western Lowland Gorilla, the Jap Lowland Gorilla and the endangered Mountain Gorilla.

The area additionally gives meals, recent water and shelter to greater than 75 million individuals of almost 150 distinct ethnic teams. Ba’Aka persons are among the many most well-known representatives of an historical hunter-gatherer life-style.

I’ll now focus my consideration to the three title international locations, Gabon, Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic, every with about 200 mammal and 700 hen species.

Settled on the Atlantic coast, Gabon – one of the vital affluent African international locations and essentially the most steady of the trio, affords 700 birds, amongst them Congo Serpent Eagle, Naked-cheeked Trogon; Fiery-breasted and Beautiful (Perrin’s) Bushshrikes; African Dwarf, White-bellied, Shining Blue and Chocolate-backed Kingfishers; Lengthy-tailed Hawk, Gray Pratincole; Vermiculated and Pel’s Fishing Owls; Black-headed and Rosy Bee-eaters; African River Martin; along with Western Lowland Gorilla, an opportunity of Chimpanzee and Mandrill. It’s attainable to journey by means of the nation, staying in fundamental to reasonable resorts and visiting numerous nationwide parks.

Loango Lodge seaside safari by UNDP

There are 13 nationwide parks within the nation, all created in 2002 when President Omar Bongo established Gabon’s Nationwide Company for Nationwide Parks. Birdwise, crucial are the Leconi space within the southeast, close to the border with the Congo, in addition to centrally situated Lope and Ivindo Nationwide Parks, with 430 forest hen species, one of many bird-richest rainforests of Africa. Lastly, by the Atlantic Coast lies the Loango Nationwide Park with massive areas of pristine lowland forest, tranquil, forest-lined rivers, pans and open grasslands with White-crested Tiger Heron, African River Martin, Congo Serpent Eagle, Lengthy-tailed Hawk, Purple-chested Goshawk, Forbes’s Plover; White-bellied and Shining Blue Kingfishers; Loango Weaver, Naked-cheeked Trogon; Vermiculated and Pel’s Fishing Owls; Bates’s Nightjar, Hartlaub’s Duck, African Finfoot, and so on. Ecotourists’ lodging was developed by Gabon Wildlife Camps & Safaris, parallel with the parks themselves, e.g. within the Loango Nationwide Park you could select from Loango Lodge, Louri Wilderness Camp and Akaka Forest Camp; within the Ivindo Nationwide Park there’s a Kongou Forest Camp, within the Lope Nationwide Park Moabi Tented Camp, and so on.

The landlocked Republic of the Congo (former French Congo; to not be confused with a lot bigger Democratic Republic of the Congo, previously Belgian Congo) is typically informally known as Congo-Brazzaville, after its capital metropolis. Within the distant northwest of this nation in Odzala-Kokoua Nationwide Park, accessible by air from Brazzaville, almost 450 species of birds await you (330 breeding), together with Congo Serpent-eagle, Purple-chested Owlet, Black-collared Lovebird, White-bellied Kingfisher, Blue-headed Bee-eater, Gray-headed Broadbill, Angola and West African Batises, Jap Wattled Cuckooshrike. Mammals embrace Western Lowland Gorilla, Forest Elephant and Forest Buffalo, and eleven diurnal primates. Odzala Discovery Camps is working three lodges in and by the park, the camps have a community of trails, decks and boardwalks, and birding is great. You may discover African Gray Parrot or Hartlaub’s Geese drawn to the salty water of the baïs or Naked-cheeked Trogons and Blue Malkohas within the timber.

Ngaga Camp’s (above) principal draw is monitoring the Western Lowland Gorilla (2 habituated teams out of 20 dwelling within the space, time restricted to 1 hour). Different primates embrace Chimpanzee and Putty-nosed Monkey, a number of duiker antelope species, and so on.

Lango Camp is located alongside the mineral-rich baï within the coronary heart of the park, visited by Forest Buffalo, Forest, Elephant, Sitatunga and Bongo antelopes, Allen’s Swamp Monkey, massive flocks of African Gray Parrots… Recreation viewing on foot or by motorboat.

Mboko Camp is within the open savannah dotted with termite mounds subsequent to the riverine forest (it has a 700 metres lengthy boardwalk by means of semi-flooded forest). Forest Elephants right here graze contained in the camp, different species to be seen embrace Bongo and Dwarf Crocodile. Recreation viewing on foot, by 4×4 or by motorboat.

The least steady and essentially the most troublesome of the trio, the Central African Republic (CAR), has its best reserve, Dzanga-Sangha, within the southwest, by the border with Congo. The easiest way of visiting it’s by air from Brazzaville to Kabo Airstrip, inside Congo, however close to the CAR border, and from there a number of hours upriver by boat. Amongst about 430 species of birds are Gray-necked Rockfowl (with small breeding colonies within the space), Frazer’s Eagle Owl, Vermiculated Fishing Owl, Hartlaub Duck, African Gray Parrot, Nice Blue Turaco, Naked-cheeked Trogon, Black Bee-eater and hornbills. The Sangha Baï, a big mineral-rich forest clearing, affords Forest Elephants, Forest Buffalo, Purple River Hog, Bongo and even Lowland Gorilla. There are additionally some habituated teams of Lowland Gorillas, and over 200-strong habituated troop of Agile Mangabey monkeys.

Perched on the banks of the Sangha River, Sanhga Lodge (above) is straightforward but idyllic. Among the birds dwelling across the lodge embrace Plumed Guineafowl, Gray-throated Rail, Lyre-tailed Honeyguide and Sangha Forest Robin (a subspecies of the Forest Robin), in addition to breeding Gray-necked Rockfowl. Elephants, Buffalos and Sitatungas could be watched from viewing platforms, Gorilla monitoring on foot, and riverine forest exploration by motorboat. One other lodging choice is the close by Doli Lodge (Doli means “elephant” within the Sango language), farther up the river.

Photographs by Congo Conservation Firm (4), Sanhga Lodge (1) & UNDP (1)
Cowl photograph: Odzala-Kokoua Nationwide Park, by Congo Conservation Firm/Odzala Discovery Camps



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