Odzala-Kokoua National Park Republic of Congo, Africa

Country Congo
Established 1935
Region Congo Basin
IUCN Category National Park (CAT II)
Project Size 13,487 km² (larger than Qatar)
Population 130,000
Biome Guinea-Congo Forests
Key Species Western lowland gorilla, forest elephant, chimpanzee
Conservation Relevance Key Biodiversity Area, Biosphere Reserve, Important Bird Area, Ramsar Site
Managing Authority Odzala Kokoua Foundation
Partner African Parks, Ministry of Forest Economy, Sustainable Development and Environment of the Republic of Congo
Funding Partner Rob and Melani Walton Foundation
One of Earth’s Green Lungs

Legacy Landscapes Fund Project Candidate | Status 05/2021

Odzala-Kokoua National Park is one of Africa’s oldest national parks; designated in 1935, it then received biosphere reserve status in 1977. Covering an expansive 13,487 km2 area, Odzala lies in the heart of the Congo Basin, the second-largest rainforest in the world after the Amazon. Odzala’s dense rainforest is dotted with over 140 known open saline clearing called bais which are of exceptional value for wildlife in the region. Forest elephants have been documented to travel large distances to Odzala for these nutritionally important meeting grounds.

The Congo Basin spans more than two million square kilometers across six countries and accounts for 18 percent of the world’s remaining rainforest. Humans have occupied the area for over 50,000 years, living in harmony with one of the most biologically diverse and species-rich areas on the planet. Simultaneously, the basin delivers clean water, food, and shelter to more than 75 million people.

Large tracts of savanna are present in the South, making Odzala home to a unique mix of species. For example, Odzala is believed to have the only viable population of spotted hyena in the entire Congo Basin.

Key Threats

  • Illegal wildlife and ivory trafficking
  • Bushmeat poaching
  • Mining activities

Key Activities

  • Strengthen wildlife research and monitoring
  • Improve the effectiveness of the park management
  • Reinforce anti-poaching and application of protected area laws
  • Build a constituency for conservation among local communities, diversify livelihoods and develop sustainable tourism

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© Andrew Beck / African Parks
© Andrew Beck / African Parks