Africa’s largest tropical rainforest reserve, the Salonga National Park in Democratic Republic of the Congo, has been removed from the endangered heritage sites list due to improvement in conservation, resulting in stabilising bonobo and elephant populations.
Salonga National Park was designated a World Heritage site in 1984 and a List of World Heritage in Danger site in 1999. It has in the past suffered from poaching, vegetation loss and water pollution.
On Monday, the World Heritage Committee (WHC) said on that the park’s management has been strengthened over the years, notably in terms of anti-poaching measures.
The site plays an important role in climate regulation and is also home to many vulnerable or endangered species, including bonobo monkeys, the bush elephant, and the Congo peacock. The World Wildlife Federation states the forest is home to 51 species of mammal, as well as 129 fish species and 223 bird species.
In Monday’s statement, the WHC said wildlife monitoring has shown that bonobo populations remain stable and that the population of forest elephants there is recovering.
According to studies, Bonobos share around 98.7 percent of their DNA with humans and, along with chimpanzees, are our two closest living relatives.
Their population is estimated at between 10,000 to 50,000, though the number might decline over coming decades due to growing threats and a low reproductive rate.
In 2018, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) expressed what it called “deep concern” after the DRC government granted approval for oil production in some locations that overlapped into the park.
The wildlife group said oil contracts could threaten “exceptional flora and fauna as well as the lives and livelihoods of neighbouring communities.”
Mounting pressure has reportedly put paid on the exploration.
Surveillance of the Salonga park is carried out in part by guards who conduct regular patrols. The WHC states these guard numbers must be increased in the long term if the very large and hard-to-reach areas of the park are to be effectively monitored.
NEWS/PHOTO SOURCE: News Agencies