The Republic of Congo has opened a fifth national park in an effort to protect the rare and endangered animals that live in the area. The Ogooué-Leketi National Park was established on the 9th of November 2018, and it has since been a safe haven for the wildlife that were being hunted or were losing their homes.
A major challenge in the creation of the park were logging practices and hunting. The flora and fauna of park are quite rare and unique, so if the landscape goes then they go as well. In 2007, BirdLife International declared the area as a site of high importance for the conservation of some rare birds. The larger animals that inhabit the space need the area secured in order to survive. The great ape population has been steadily declining since 2010, and forest elephants have begun to change their grazing behaviour in order to avoid contacts with humans. With the help of government and NGO authorities, a sanctuary was created to help these animals live in peace.
The park spans area of 3,500 square kilometres (around 1,350 square miles) and many different types of landscapes. Combined with the neighbouring Batéké Plateau National Park, a protected area of almost 5,500 square kilometres (around 2,120 square miles) was created. A diverse selection of wildlife occupy the savanna-forest that’s found nowhere else in the country: rare plants grow well in the sandy substrate of the savanna, forest elephants and buffalos roam free hidden amongst the giant trees, and mandrills swing on the branches above.
In order to make the upkeep of the park sustainable, the communities living around it have been involved in the process of creating the area. The borders of the park were drawn to ensure that no villages would be included in it. Residents identified important cultural and resource locations that they require access to. This aspect was important because the humans and animals in the area need to live in harmony for everyone to thrive, so it was good that the perspectives of these communities were not ignored.
As list of endangered species get longer and longer, creating sanctuaries like this national park is imperative to the survival of many species. Not only are they protected from human-induced harm, but their ecosystems are also preserved and left undisrupted.