WWF in the Central African Republic | WWF

WWF in the Central African Republic

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Ranger monitoring Dzanga-Bai, where forest elephants gather
© Alexandre Brecher/WWF

Created in 1990, the landscape known as the Dzanga-Sangha Protected Areas (DSPA)  is in the south-western region of the Central African Republic (CAR), and the northern edge of the Congo Basin forest. The area is well known for its impressive biodiversity and is the biggest intact forest remaining in the country. Despite three coups and recurring instability, WWF has kept an ongoing presence in this region, thus decisively contributing to the preservation of this unique landscape. The DSPA is part of the Tri-National Sangha landscape, which is inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


WWF-CAR has a field base in DSPA, as well as a support office in capital city Bangui. Both remained functional, albeit at reduced capacity, throghout the latest political crisis of 2013. All staff resumed full-time duties in July 2014.


Main activities

WWF in Dzanga-Sangha

The long-term goals for DSPA are to protect the forest ecosystem and to promote sustainable development in the region.

Eco-tourism is very important to Dzanga-Sangha. 50% of the revenues from park entry fees go towards park management, 10% to a governmental found to develop forestry and tourism in the country, and 40% to the local communities to promote rural development projects based on the sustainable use of natural resources.
 
Our main efforts are focused on the DSPA and Ndoki National Park in the southwest of the country, where exceptional concentrations of wildlife still thrive. We support conservation on many fronts:
  • Anti-poaching and ecological monitoring
  • Reduction of illegal wildlife trade
  • Sustainable development and effective protection of DSPA
  • The most successful western lowland gorilla habituation program of Central Africa

WWF works in partnership with the DSPA administration, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Ministry of Water and Forest Resources and Tourism.

We also work with local environmental civil society organisations and forest companies engaged in sustainable forest management.
 
Finally, we seek to promote indigenous rights and include the BaAka pygmies into community development programs, as well as further explore their exceptional knowledge of the forest and tracking skills in our anti-poaching and gorilla tracking programmes. 

CAR KEY FACTS

Surface: 622,985 km² (slightly smaller than Texas)
Population: 4.6 million (2013 estimate)
Ranks: 185 out of 187 (third lowest) in the global 2013 UNDP Human Development Index
Adult illiteracy rate: approximately 50%
Life expectancy: under 50 for men and women
Political instability: since a March 2013 coup by the Seleka rebel movement; UN, European and French forces have been deployed in this transition period.
 
	© Gaston Buh
Central African Republic map
© Gaston Buh

BIODIVERSITY & LANDSCAPE

  • Very diverse landscape: vast plateau, rolling hills to the northeast, with dense rainforest to the southwest.
  • The vast majority of CAR’s landscape is unused, with little to no irrigation or permanent crops
  • Despite being landlocked, it has over 2,000km of navigable waterways and two river ports: Bangui and Nola linking it to the Congo river, Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Exceptionally rich biodiversity, including many rare and endemic species:
    • Great apes: western lowland gorilla and chimpanzee
    • Great mammals: forest and savannah elephant, hippo, lion, cheetah, leopard, great forest hog, buffalo, giraffe, bongo, sitatunga 
    • Reptiles: Nile crocodile, long snout crocodiles, python, green and black mamba, Gabon viper
    • Birds: grey parrot, ostrich, fish eagle, kingfisher subspecies

NATURAL RESOURCES

The CAR holds vast natural resources, including diamonds, gold, oil, timber, vast amounts of arable land and hydropower. Despite its riches, the CAR remains one of the poorest nations in the world and is particularly vulnerable to predatory practices.

Slideshow

© Alexandre Brecher/WWF © Alexandre Brecher/WWF © Alexandre Brecher/WWF © Alexandre Brecher/WWF © Alexandre Brecher/WWF © WWF / Carlos Drews © Chloé Cipolletta © WWF / Carlos Drews © Chloé Cipolletta © Chloé Cipolletta © Chloé Cipolletta

MAJOR THREATS TO CONSERVATION

1. Poaching and bushmeat trade
2. Illegal logging and mining
3. Prolonged and sustained socio-economic hardships lead to the mismanagement and overexploitation of natural resources.
4. Recent political instability impedes development efforts linked to conservation and creates opportunities for ivory poachers and other wildlife traffickers.

The BaAka People

Through the years, researchers have produced a very rich botanical inventory with the help of the BaAka pygmy guides.

The BaAka, natives of this area, have an unparalleled knowledge of the forest. With their participation in the conservation efforts, the BaAka have played a fundamental role in the protection of this ecosystem.
 
	© Martin Harvey/WWF
The BaAka People
© Martin Harvey/WWF

Thinking about visiting Dzanga Sangha?