A journey to one of the most preserved and wild regions in the world, within the second largest forest massif in the world
PEOPLES, FAUNA AND FLORA OF THE CONGO BASIN
The second green lung in the world – if not the first, the Congo Basin with its 200 million hectares of forest plays a vital role in the environment, producing 20% of the world’s oxygen. It is one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet. Its small population and the weakness of its road network have made it possible to maintain intact many regions where nature remains the master.
For centuries have lived in this generous nature of the Bantu peoples (Batekés and Bakongo in particular) and the people of the trees, the Pygmies, living from hunting, fishing and gathering. Their presence dates back millennia and they are among the last populations of hunter-gatherers in the world to have preserved their way of life. They have a unique knowledge that allows them to live in total harmony with the forest. Their still very lively oral culture, rich in songs and mimes is a true ode to the forest.
The sustainable forest management policy in the Republic of Congo (Congo-Brazzaville) has made it possible to maintain a large forest cover and the conditions for large fauna to develop there.
The forests of the Sangha thus have more than 40,000 lowland gorillas, around 10,000 forest elephants, nearly 10,000 chimpanzees, bongos, bush pigs, buffaloes, blue duikers, sitatungas in large numbers and panthers that we can cross if one is lucky. Most of these species can be observed in the Bais, marshy clearings of several hectares rich in mineral salts, flowers and nutritious leaves found in the forests (Wali Bai, Mbeli Bai).
The waters of the Congo rivers have some extraordinary fish such as the Goliath tigerfish (nicknamed Mbenga in Congo) which has impressive teeth allowing it to attack Nile crocodiles of its size.
More than 350 species of birds also live in the Congo Basin, including the Black-chinned Weaver, Finsch’s Francolin and the Congo Wheatear. Also large enigmatic species such as the Black-bellied Bustard and the Senegal Bustard, others rarely observed such as the Black-headed Bee-eater and Sladen’s Barbican, favorite forest species such as the Gray Parrot and various species of hornbills and turacos, a mine of kingfisher, barbicans, little barbs, sunbirds, epilects and weavers.
Thousands of insects and more than 10,000 species of plants also grow there and in the forest, we may come across pangolins.
Photo of the header, copyright : Scott Ramsay/WCS