New Nature Reserve Completes Massive Protected Area Complex in the Congo

Dec 21, 2016

ConservationEvents

Kabobo Natural Reserve, which was created today thanks to Rainforest Trust’s local partner, donors and other supporters, protects 364,975 acres of vital wildlife habitat in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

  • Kabobo escarpment. Photo courtesy of A.J.Plumptre/WCS.

On December 21, Kabobo Natural Reserve was established in the southern section of the Misotshi-Kaboga massif, an area in southeastern DRC that is of critical importance for amphibian, bird and mammal conservation, including the Kabobo Apalis (an endangered, endemic bird) and a population stronghold of the Eastern Chimpanzee. Together with the adjacent Ngandja Natural Reserve, which Rainforest Trust helped to create in August 2016, these two new protected areas safeguard over one million acres for the region’s endangered wildlife and rich biodiversity.

Rainforest Trust supported the Albertine Rift Program of the Wildlife Conservation Society in a joint collaboration with other groups to create both the newly established Kabobo Natural Reserve and Ngandja Natural Reserve. These organizations have worked tirelessly to safeguard habitat for endangered species and cultivate community support for the new protected areas, despite the boundary changes that have affected the reserve designation process.

In 2015, DRC government decentralization resulted in the creation of multiple new provinces, and the area originally proposed as Ngamikka National Park was suddenly contained within two provinces. Because of this division, local leaders and communities opted to establish the section of the proposed park in South Kivu Province as the M’Mbondo Reserve. On August 3, 2016, the Governor of South Kivu designated this protected area, whose name was changed to the Ngandja Natural Reserve to reflect the local culture and heritage of the region. On December 21, 2016, the second section of the proposed park located in Tanganyika Province was declared as Kabobo Natural Reserve, completing the priority protected area complex.

“We are delighted that this major new reserve in the Kabobo range not only protects a tremendous diversity of wildlife, but importantly was established thanks to a bottom-up approach of seeking community involvement and approval,” noted Rainforest Trust’s CEO Dr. Paul Salaman. “For protected areas to succeed, all stakeholders must be involved – and none are more critical than the people that live around this new sanctuary.”

Protection of the massif was supported by elders from every village, including indigenous people such as the Efe pygmies. Now that the reserve has been declared, Rainforest Trust’s partner is holding regular meetings with traditional chiefs and local authorities to assess management and protection activities moving forward.

Rainforest Trust thanks all of its supporters that helped to make possible the creation of Kabobo Natural Reserve, especially Bernie Han, Leslie Danoff and Larry Robbins, and Geo Chen and Angela Huang.

Rainforest Trust supported the Albertine Rift Program of the Wildlife Conservation Society in a joint collaboration with World Wide Fund for Nature-DRC and AfriCapacity in the creation of Kabobo Natural Reserve. The United States Agency for International Development (CARPE/USAID), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund and IUCN SOS grants supported the surveys, consultations and participatory mapping with local communities by WCS.