The Salonga National Park: A conservation imperative and too big to fail!
The Salonga National Park (SNP) lies in the heart of the Congo Basin in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). As Africa’s largest tropical forest park (33,317 km2), the Salonga shelters one of the world’s largest expanses of relatively pristine lowland rainforest situated at the headwaters of important, productive tributaries of the Congo River system. Lacking support from the international conservation community, this park was virtually a no-man’s-land until the past decade. On one hand, the park’s sheer size has facilitated the survival of the endemic bonobo and a remnant herd of forest elephants within its borders. However, on the other hand, its vastness has impeded its much-needed development, law enforcement, and our understanding of its conservation value. Based on 20 years’ experience in the Salonga’s Watsi Kengo Sector, Dr. Reinartz with ZSM presents a brief overview of the challenges facing the park and highlight areas of progress in safeguarding wildlife populations. She further demonstrates Salonga’s premier importance to bonobo conservation and its potential role in forest elephant survival in DRC. As forests are shrinking worldwide, we are just beginning to grasp Salonga’s ecological and environmental significance, and that it merits our investment. Salonga is too big to fail.