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The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is one of the most important countries in Africa for biodiversity conservation. It has the highest number of species for almost all groups of organisms with the exception of plants in which it is second to South Africa.
The DRC also harbours a number of spectacular endemic species like the okapi, Grauer’s gorilla, bonobo, and the Congo peacock. It possesses over 50% of Africa’s tropical forests. Dense forests and woodlands cover half of the DRC’s total surface area of 2.3 million km² and play a critically important role in maintaining global climatic cycles.
It is extremely rich in natural resources. DRC contains 80% of the world’s reserves of columnite-tantalite (coltan) and 10% of the world’s copper. It is the world’s largest producers of industrial diamonds. Yet the DRC is one of the least developed countries in the world. Approximately 70% of the population lives under the poverty line. The country’s economy relies on the unsustainable exploitation of natural resources.
The Fauna & Flora International (FFI) DRC Programme focuses on supporting the Congolese protected areas authority, the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature, to manage DRC’s biodiversity. We also work to engage with the local communities who are dependent on natural resources found within DRC‘s protected areas.
Fewer than 900 mountain gorillas struggle to survive in Central Africa’s forests. The IGCP, a partnership between Fauna & Flora International, the World Wide Fund for Nature and the African Wildlife Foundation, supports transboundary protected area authorities in three countries to improve conservation of gorillas and their mountain forest habitat. The IGCP also improves local livelihoods, helping to mitigate threats to this Critically Endangered species.
Grauer’s gorilla can only be found in the mountains and transitional forests of eastern DRC, making the Kahuzi-Biega and Maiko National Parks vital refuges. The gorilla is endangered due to habitat loss, illegal hunting and the near breakdown of protected area management compounded by fierce civil war over the past 13 years. A catastrophic population crash is suspected across its range but the current status remains largely unknown. FFI is helping park authorities monitor gorillas, institute programmes to improve the skills and resources of rangers and facilitate community projects that address threats to gorillas and also improve the livelihoods of local people.
Garamba National Park in north-east DRC is a World Heritage Site and its extensive grasslands support priority populations of elephants and Congolese giraffe. FFI is working with the ICCN, the African Parks Foundation and local communities to address the threats to the park and its key species and habitats, primarily through implementing community awareness and conservation initiatives to garner local support for the park’s conservation.
Wildlife in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has suffered from ongoing human conflict over natural resources. The Congolese Protected Areas Authority (ICCN) has realised that conservation will only work if communities around national parks are supportive and involved. Fauna & Flora International (FFI) played a crucial role in helping the ICCN draft the country’s first community conservation strategy, providing guidelines for involving local people in the management of the protected areas and their natural resources. We are now supporting the implementation of the strategy in Garamba, Kahuzi-Biega and Maiko National Parks.
There are few animals on earth as strong as the mountain gorilla, or as fragile. Mountain gorillas, numbering approximately 880 total individuals, are found in only two locations on earth- Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda and the Virunga Massif (comprised of Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda, and Parc National de Virunga in the Democratic Republic of Congo). In 1991, Fauna & Flora International, in solidarity with the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) and the…Read more