Odzala-Kokoua National Park Congo

Odzala-Kokoua National Park in the Republic of Congo
Odzala-Kokoua National Park or Odzala National Park is a national park in the Republic of the Congo. The park was first protected in 1935, affirmed a biosphere reserve in 1977 and allowed formal title by a presidential decree in 2001. Odzala-Kokoua has around 100 mammal species and one of Africa’s most diverse primate populations. A nonprofit making conservation organization, the African Parks started managing the park in 2010 in partnership with the Ministry of Forest Economy, Sustainable Development and Environment of the Republic of the Congo.

Park Size

Odzala-Kokoua National Park is roughly 13,500 square kilometres or about 5,200 square miles environmental reserve in the northwestern side of the Republic of the Congo set up in 1935. The park has conserved old-growth tropical rain forest and mutable topography, ranging from 350 metres (1,150 feet) high hills to thick forest and plentiful openings. The park is characterized by a dry forest, grassland and tropical forest ecologies.

Background and Tourism

Odzala-Kokoua National Park is among the oldest national parks on the African continent. It was first conserved in 1935 and offered an official park status by presidential decree from Denis Sassou Nguesso in 2001. The park was titled a biosphere reserve in 1977 and managed since 1992 with financial aid from Conservation and Rational Utilization of Forest Ecosystems in Central Africa (ECOFAC), the European Union-sponsored program that creates an agenda for preserving forests in the region. Conservation energies were limited in the times of the Republic of the Congo Civil War (1997–99) and the park was abandoned for years around the time of the Ebola occurrences and suffered from heavy plundering. Tourism in the park has been minimal.

African Parks started running the park in 2010 as part of a 25-year agreement with the Ministry of Forest and Sustainable Development of the Republic of the Congo. In 2013, African Parks, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), plus the World Wide Fund for Nature went into a five-year USD 10 million agreement to work together to conserve Odzala-Kokoua and the Sangha Trinational. WCS has been helping the government’s management and protection of Odzala-Kokoua and other national parks since the early 1990s. African Parks started Congo’s first firearm amnesty campaign in 2013, giving poachers positions as park rangers in interchange for arms and intelligence.

There were over 76 guards patrolling Odzala-Kokoua as early as 2014. Two Malinois dogs were skilled to sense ivory and animal meat in 2014 in a struggle to condense poaching. Despite having national park status, which safeguards against mining, some mining permits issued by the government permitted mineral extraction in parts of Odzala-Kokoua in 2016.

The park opened for tourist holidays in August 2012. Wilderness Safaris put money in the park by improving infrastructure, building two luxury lodges, and offering additional training to guides and rangers. The lodges became fully operational after 6 years and got funding from philanthropist Sabine Plattner, a wife to the German businessman, Hasso Plattner. The company’s working contract completed in 2015 and the camps have since been run by the Congo Conservation firm that Sabine Plattner started and funds.

Flora and fauna

Odzala-Kokoua National Park is a home to nearly 4,500 plant and tree species. The massive section of the park’s woodland is open-canopy Marantaceae.

Mammals in the Park

The park has around 100 mammal species and one of the Africa’s most varied primate inhabitants. Odzala-Kokoua was at one time a home to approximately 20,000 gorillas. But around 2002–2005, sequences of Ebola virus disease epidemics killed 70–95% of the park’s gorilla numbers. According to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, in 2005, Ebola claimed nearly 5,000 gorillas within a 1,042 square miles (2,700 square kilometers) of the park. The number of gorillas in Odzala-Kokoua has since improved and thanks to the efforts by conservation organizations and tourism companies to preserve and rehabilitate the park.

A study of diurnal primates, piloted during the mid-1990s, indicated momentous monkey populations in Republic of the Congo’s forest area. Observed species comprised of the western lowland gorilla and central chimpanzee plus eight monkeys including the Angolan talapoin, black crested mangabey, crested mona monkey, De Brazza’s monkey, greater spot-nosed monkey, mantled guereza, moustached guenon, and the Tana River mangabey.

The total number of gorilla nests were maximum in the park’s open-canopy Marantaceae forest; chimpanzee nests were most plentiful in closed-canopy primary and Marantaceae forests. All the species of monkey were found in the forest’s thickest zones, but only four were present in terra firma forest. Odzala-Kokoua had the uppermost concentrations of western lowland gorilla and chimpanzee in Central Africa documented today. High forest production and reduced poaching is believed to have enabled this success.

The results of a survey done in clearings within the northern portion of the park, printed in 1998, indicated the occurrence of thirteen big mammals, the most recurrent of which were the bongo, buffalo, African elephant, forest hog, giant forest hog, gorilla plus the sitatunga. Other species of mammals recorded comprise of the African civet, African forest elephant, black-and-white colobus, and common chimpanzee. Poaching has been ascribed to the park’s elephant population degeneration. Surveys of Odzala-Kokoua’s African forest elephant population estimate about 18,200 and 13,500 in 2000 and 2005, correspondingly. There were roughly 9,600 elephants as by 2014.

Spotted hyenas were purportedly plentiful in the park’s grassland expanse in 2007. In 2013, the lion was well-thought-out locally to be nonexistent, as the species has not been sighted for fifteen years. Survey results published in 2014 revealed the absence of lions, but at least 46 hyenas were recorded in the park’s savanna ecosystem. Also, African golden cat, leopard, and serval were recorded. The drop of lion and spotted hyena numbers are assumed to be triggered by over exploitation.  Antelope species consist of the bay duiker, black-fronted duiker, Peters’ duiker, and white-bellied duiker among others.

Birds

There are nearly 440 bird species recorded in the park. the bird species include the African fish eagle, black-backed cisticola, forest wood hoopoe, great snipe, green pigeon, grey parrot, black-throated apalis, black-winged pratincole, eastern wattled cuckooshrike, forest robin, , grey-headed broadbill, lesser kestrel, Pel’s fishing owl, pied kingfisher,[7] red-capped crombec, red-throated cliff swallow, Uganda woodland warbler and yellow-capped weaver. Herons, hornbills, and kingfishers are also present, including the goliath heron, black dwarf hornbill, and giant kingfisher. Reptiles, amphibians, fish, and insects

Reptiles, amphibians, fish, and insects

Crocodiles, lizards and frogs are alive in Odzala-Kokoua National Park. A study done in Zootaxa in 2010 reported the existence of eleven species of Petrocephalus. The distichodontid fish species Hemigrammocharax rubensteini, described in 2013, has been recorded in the park. The parks hosts a variety of insect species, including ants, bees, butterflies and termites.