Criteria:(ix) evolutionary processes (x) biodiversity
Location and Values: The Sangha Trinational is a major protected area complex in the tropical rainforests of the Congo Basin. It encompasses three adjoining national parks in the border area between the Central African Republic (Dzanga-Ndoki National Park), Cameroon (Lobeke NP) and Congo (Nouabale-Ndoki NP) set within a more extensive forest landscape.
The tropical rainforests of this region lie at the northern headwaters of the mighty Congo River in a relatively flat landscape punctuated by shallow drainage lines. There is a wide variety of forest types, seasonally flooded areas, swamps and mud-brown rivers. Forest elephants, gorillas, chimpanzees, buffalo and an enormous diversity of other fauna inhabit the area. One of the most striking features of this forested landscape is the occurrence of swampy clearings known as ‘bais’, where animals congregate in great numbers. These bais provide a rare opportunity to see and study some of the iconic rainforest animals, which would otherwise remain hidden. These are areas where elephants come to dig for salt and other minerals, and to drink, meet, fight and play. Their frequent visits help maintain the open clearing and allow its marshy grasses to flourish, which in turn creates favoured conditions for gorillas, buffalo, bongo and other species.
Slideshow of the Sangha Trinational: The slideshow features a superb portfolio of photographs taken at the Dzanga Bai in the Central African Republic by Thomas Aveling. It starts with a few introductory photos showing forest elephants and some aerial views of the forest, rivers and swampy clearings that are characteristic of the region. It continues with a series on elephants and bongo at Dzanga Bai, a couple of pictures of travel along the arterial rivers by dugout canoe, followed by a series on western lowland gorillas in the tall grass of the bai. Some of the other Bai visitors, such as forest buffalo are shown as well as some of the less conspicuous fauna – a damselfly, forest tortoise, and gabon viper in the dried leaves on the forest floor (can you spot it?). The slideshow continues with a few pictures from Nouabale-Ndoki National Park (Congo) by Peter Howard, with some more aerial views of the forest landscapes, a Bai on the Congolese side of the border, Lac Tele and a 'ribbon' settlement in the heart of the forest. It finishes with an indication of some of the threats to the site, which include logging around the periphery of the parks and the ever-present threat of poaching for bushmeat to supply far-off urban markets.
Google Earth View: To view satellite imagery of the Sangha Trinational on Google Earth, click here. This opens a new window, so when you are finished, just close the Google Earth page and you will be straight back here to continue browsing. Unfortunately the images of this area are rather poor, with a lot of cloud cover, but it is possible to see some of the main landscape features, including the swamp forests, rivers and drainage, and to see the extensive networks of logging roads and related development around the fringes of the area.