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 flora and fauna, comprising a large biodiversity in rainforests, seasonally flooded forests and grasslands. Wildlife is threatened by overhunting for bushmeat.

The country is considered one of the 17 megadiverse nations, its rainforests harbour 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 Okapi Wildlife Reserve. All five sites are listed by UNESCO as World Heritage In Danger.

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.

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).[citation needed]

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.

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.[3]

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.[4]

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.[5]

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 humans. 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.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Super Chimps that eat Lions", The Guardian Unlimited, July 2007.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Plumptre, A.J., Kujirakwinja, D., Treves, A., Owiunji, I. and Rainer, H. (2007). "Transboundary conservation in the greater Virunga landscape: its importance for landscape species". Biological Conservation. 134 (2): 279−287.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  3. ^ ""The Bushman crisis: long term solutions - international, national and local policies"" (PDF). (67.9 KiB), WWF, 2001.
  4. ^ ""The Bushman crisis: long term solutions - international, national and local policies"" (PDF). (67.9 KiB), WWF, 2001.
  5. ^ ""The Bushman crisis: long term solutions - international, national and local policies"" (PDF). (67.9 KiB), WWF, 2001.

External links[edit]