Wildlife of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

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The Democratic Republic of the Congo is the only country in the world in which bonobos are found in the wild.
Bas-Congo landscape.

The wildlife of the Democratic Republic of the Congo includes its fauna and flora.

Overview[edit]

The country's rainforests contain great biodiversity, including many rare and endemic species, such as the chimpanzee and the bonobo. Five of the country's national parks are listed as World Heritage Sites: the Garumba, Kahuzi-Biega, Salonga and Virunga National Parks, and the Okapi Wildlife Reserve. The Democratic Republic of Congo is considered one of the seventeen megadiverse nations.

The civil war and resultant poor economic conditions have endangered much of this biodiversity. Many park wardens were either killed or could not afford to continue their work. All five sites are listed by UNESCO as World Heritage In Danger.

Fauna[edit]

The ecoregion is home to the endangered Western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla), the endangered Eastern lowland gorilla (Gorilla berengei graueri), (African forest elephant(Loxodonta cyclotis), and okapi (Okapia johnstoni)

A population of 'super-sized' chimpanzees, the so-called Bili apes that the local people say eat the birds in area, has been reported from Bili Forest in the far north, about 200 km east of Bondo, DR Congo. University of Amsterdam scientists observed the animals eating the carcass of a leopard. No scientific evidence has been presented that they hunt and kill big cats, though the Bili chimpanzees exhibit unusual behaviour such as sleeping in large nests on the ground rather than in trees, indicating a possible lack of fear of such predators.[1]

Animals native to the Democratic Republic of the Congo:

Birds[edit]

Butterflies[edit]

Flora[edit]

The ecoregion contains areas of permanently flooded swamp forest, seasonally flooded swamp forest, and flooded grassland. The permanently flooded swamp forests are home to extensive stands of Raphia palm. Trees in the seasonally flooded forests include species of Garcinia and Manilkara.

The Western Congolian swamp forests are an ecoregion of the Republic of the Congo and the DMC. Together with the adjacent Eastern Congolian swamp forests, it forms one of the largest continuous areas of freshwater swamp forest in the world. It is a flooded forest with a high canopy, dense undergrowth and has a muddy floor. It has not been disturbed very much by outside influences and so remains largely pristine as getting through this forest is called "almost impossible".[citation needed]

Conservation[edit]

Over the past century, the DRC has developed into the center of what has been called the Central African "bushmeat" problem, which is regarded by many as a major environmental, as well as, socio-economic crisis. refers to the meat of wild animals. It is typically obtained through trapping, usually with wire snares, or otherwise with shotguns or arms originally intended for use in the DRC's numerous military conflicts. The "bushmeat crisis" emerged in the DRC mainly as a result of the poor living conditions of the Congolese people.[2]

A rising population combined with deplorable economic conditions forced many Congolese to become dependent on bushmeat, either as a means of acquiring income (hunting the meat and selling), or dependency on it for food. Unemployment and urbanization throughout Central Africa have exacerbated the problem further by turning cities like the urban sprawl of Kinshasa into the prime market for bushmeat. This combination has caused not only widespread endangerment of local fauna, but has forced humans to trudge deeper into the wilderness in search of the desired animal meat.[3]

This overhunting results in the deaths of more animals and makes resources even more scarce for humans. The hunting has also been facilitated by the extensive logging prevalent throughout the Congo's rainforests (from corporate logging, in addition to farmers clearing out forest in order to create areas for agriculture), which allows hunters much easier access to previously unreachable jungle terrain, while simultaneously eroding away at the habitats of animals.[4]

A case that has particularly alarmed conservationists is that of primates. The Congo is inhabited not only by two distinct species of chimpanzee - the Common chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) and the bonobo (Pan paniscus) - but by the gorilla as well. It is the only country in the world in which bonobo are found in the wild. The two species of chimpanzees, along with gorillas, are the closest living evolutionary relatives to people. Much concern has been raised about Great ape extinction. Because of hunting and habitat destruction, the chimpanzee and the gorilla, both of whose population once numbered in the millions have now dwindled down to only about 200,000 per species. Gorillas and both species of chimpanzee are classified as Endangered by the World Conservation Union, as well as the okapi, which is also native to the area.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]