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Inspiration, discovery and conservation in action from Congo’s wild places.

Roadblock leads to poacher arrests

At the end of March 2015, at a routine roadblock on a logging route cutting through the forest, a pastor from the Ngombe village in northern Congo was caught with a basket loaded full of elephant meat. The pastor was arrested by the Ministry of Forestry Economy and Sustainable Development (MEFDD) ecoguards manning the barricade, and taken to the Ngombe police station for questioning. MEFDD ecoguards, trained by WCS and the Congolese Army, monitor the...

Trees for Congo

Across the north of Congo spans one of Africa’s most pristine belts of rainforest. This vast expanse of trees not only harbors astonishing biodiversity, but is also a vital buffer against the effects of climate change. Further south, pockets of forest on the sandy hills of the savannah result in interesting and unique faunal assemblages. This year the theme for Earth Day is Trees for the Earth, here at WCS Congo we have a...

Jana Robeyst

It is with great sadness that we are sharing the tragic news that Jana Robeyst died on April 8th 2016, whilst pursuing a promising career dedicated to the study and conservation of wild forest elephants at Mbeli Bai. She was an amazing scientist and wonderful person who loved her work and was living her dream. She will be truly missed by everyone who ever had the opportunity to meet her. Forever will she be a...

A growing engagement

Say 'Congo' and most people will think of thick, impenetrable forests. Few people realise that one third of Congo's surface area is covered by savannah. The WCS Batéké project works in the area around the Lefini reserve in central Congo. Trees cover only about 20% of the landscape, meaning that the wooded areas are increasingly under pressure from a growing human population. The reserve was created in the 1950s as a big game hunting area....

A walk to Wali

During a recent visit to Nouabale-Ndoki National Park I had the pleasure of taking a walk to Wali bai guided by Gabi Mobalambi. Gabi started working for WCS Congo in 1997. At the time he was an eco-guard posted as an assistant to researchers working at Wali bai. Eight years in the field working alongside several botanical experts, and a keen interest in the natural world, built a wealth of knowledge in Gabi. As a...

A sanctuary for forest elephants

This forest elephant is just one of over 500 that have so far been individually identified by researchers who have spent the past twenty years studying the wildlife of the Mbeli Bai clearing in the Nouabale-Ndkoi National Park in northern Congo. Having spent the night sleeping on the viewing platform at Mbeli last week, I woke up at sunrise to find him feeding on a thick mat of floating vegetation right in front of the...

Fishing for change

“Mbese, ngolo, nzombo, mbenga…”: Nicolas lifts each fish up in turn, sounding out its rounded Lingala names before adding it to the growing pile in our bright plastic bowl. Finding 10 species in one catch, he says, is normal for this area. WCS-led surveys have so far identified around 170 species of fish from the Sangha River, the great, green ribbon winding through North Congo’s forests. The Ndoki river, namesake of Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park, of...

Elephants in the Bateke Plateau

Last week, in the Bateke Plateau, as the orange glow of a Congolese sunset shone through the trees, the Lefini elephant monitoring team observed a rare spectacle. Four different family groups of elephants entered the bai, followed by a lone bull. A total of 33 elephants were observed at the social gathering, the highest number viewed at one time in the clearing in over a year of monitoring. ...

The elephant tower

Several days hike from the nearest logging road, accessing the northern forest clearings of Nouabale-Ndoki National Park is a big challenge. But it might be worth the effort. The largest clearing, or 'bai', is known as Bonye and it offers one of the most untouched places to view wildlife in Central Africa. Remotely situated, Bonye bai provides an important refuge to the northern Congo's most iconic fauna. ...

Mapping out a long term solution

The formal gazettement of the Ogooué-Leketi National Park (OLNP) in south-western Congo is a primary objective of WCS Congo’s Bateke Plateau project. The protection of the OLNP would create a trans boundary protected area of half a million hectares. The area is regarded as a priority site for the protection of great apes, and is of considerable ecological significance due to its location in the forest-savannah transition zone. Forest exploitation in the proposed Ogooué Leketi...