Democratic Republic of the Congo

New Hope for Congolese Wildlife

Project Cost: $275,000

Funding Raised: $275,000

$.58 per acre (1 acre = 43,560 sq ft)

100% of your donation goes towards Conservation Action.

2X The Impact

Lomami National Park will become the DRC’s first park to be created in over two decades. It is the second park in the DRC to be created without internal human settlements.

The Congo rainforest basin is the second-largest rainforest after the Amazon, but ranks as the most under-protected rainforest wilderness left on earth. More than five times the size of Texas, the basin encompasses a mosaic of montane to lowland tropical forests, swamps and natural savannas that shelter an abundance of species found nowhere else.

Decades of civil war, however, have been disastrous for citizens and natural landscapes in Central Africa. While many parts of the country have suffered as a result, the Lomami basin has been spared much of this destruction due to its remote location.

Although the basin lacks mineral resources and its sandy soils make agriculture impractical; ivory poachers and bushmeat hunters pose a serious and growing threat to its biodiverse wildlife community.

Rainforest Trust is working with local partner Lukuru Wildlife Research Foundation (LWRF) to create a national park that will permanently protect 2,193,948 acres of lowland rainforest and provide new hope for the region’s many endemic and threatened species.

Fast Facts

Location
Lomami basin, Dem. Rep. of Congo

Size
2,193,948 acres

Key Species
Bonobo (EN), Forest Elephant (VU), Okapi (EN), Lomami Red Colobus, Congo Peafowl (VU)

Habitat
Savanna to equatorial closed forest

Threats
Bushmeat hunting, ivory poaching

Action
Creation of Lomami National Park

Local Partner
Lukuru Wildlife Research Foundation (LWRF)

Financial Need
$275,000

Price Per Acre
$0.58

Biodiversity

The proposed park and its buffer zone contain a range of primate diversity unprecedented within Africa’s protected areas. Some of its primate species, such as the recently discovered Lesula and the Lomami Red Colobus, occur in no other protected area globally. Other important primates found in the area include Bonobos, Dryas Monkeys (discovered here in 2014), Mona Monkeys, Blue Monkeys, and Red Tailed Monkeys.

The proposed park also contains one of the Congo’s last remaining elephant populations, with at least 500 Forest Elephants found in the proposed area. Prized on the black market for their tusks, Forest Elephants are now highly threatened. Their situation has been exacerbated by the fact that nearly two-thirds of their habitat has been lost within the last thirty years. The proposed park also contains a high diversity of birds, including important populations of intra-African and northern migrants. Bird surveys have been conducted in few areas, but already 275 species have been recorded. Among avifauna of special concern is the Congo Peafowl. The proposed park contains one of the most important populations of this species.

Challenges

The main challenge facing wildlife in the Lomami Basin is bushmeat hunting. Widespread hunting has already affected mammal populations through much of the DRC; including buffer zones around the proposed park.

Bonobos, an endemic species found only in the DRC, are principally threatened by bushmeat hunting in the Lomami basin. Bonobos avoid fragmented forests and areas affected by human activity. Less than 30% of their original range remains inhabitable and only a quarter of this area is protected. Because they bear offspring every 4 to 5 years, Bonobo populations are in heavy decline. Total populations have declined by 50% since the 1970s, leaving only 10,000 to 20,000 of these endangered species in the wild today. Also at risk of poachers is a concentrated population of African Forest Elephants in the northern areas of the proposed park. Based in remote hunting camps, poaching gangs trade ivory for arms and ammunition. Forest Elephant populations throughout Central Africa have been decimated by poachers.

Communities

Approximately 100 small villages are scattered throughout the buffer zone surrounding the proposed park. Local economies are based upon subsistence agriculture, hunting, and fishing.

The local partner, Lukuru Wildlife Research Foundation has formed close, collaborative partnerships with the seven ethnic groups surrounding the proposed park. The most productive and durable interactions have resulted from local hires and LWRF has employed, at various times, over 90 local people from 38 villages. Seven communities on the border of the proposed park now host operations with LWRF. In addition to salaried positions, residents have supported LWRF in many informal and unpaid ways as well, including working as informants and advisors.

Solutions

To permanently protect one of the DRC’s most biodiverse landscapes, Rainforest Trust is working with Lukuru Wildlife Research Foundation to create the 2,193,948 -acre Lomami National Park.

The proposed protected area will be the first national park in the Congo – and one of few in Africa – to be established with major involvement of local communities. This participatory, bottom-up approach has provided a voice to the concerns of the local population. The proposed park has also received strong support at all governmental levels. Protection efforts will emphasize community integration and direct action by park guards. These guards will play a critical role in halting poaching and ensuring the lasting protection of Lomami’s endangered species.