Odzala-Kokoua National Park in north-western Congo is a vast green wilderness covering almost 14,00 square kilometres of pristine rainforest and is an integral part of both the Congo Basin and the TRIDOM Transfrontier Park overlapping Gabon, Congo and Central African Republic.
Covered in forests, rivers, marshes and swamps, the Park is drenched in some 1 500 mm of rain annually. Permanent rivers are a primary feature of Odzala-Kokoua, with the Lekoli and Kokoua rivers flowing into the Park’s major channel, the Mambili.
In some places, the Mambili is up to 100 metres wide between densely forested banks; it then flows into the great Congo Basin. The north of the Park has dense forest covering many steep-sloped hills. In the west, a major escarpment runs roughly north-south from which the altitude drops 350 metres into a low swampy forest towards neighbouring Gabon.
The southern part of the Park is characterised by pockets of savannah dotted with forest islands, bisected by the rivers and their associated gallery forests. A major feature is the occurrence of “bais”. These are swampy, grassy clearings in the otherwise dense forest that forest wildlife visit on a regular basis in order to drink, feed on sedges and grasses, and obtain minerals and salts.
This vast and truly wild region, with its wide range of landscapes and habitat, is home to an incredible diversity of life. Forest Elephant, Forest Buffalo, Leopard, Bongo, Giant Forest Hog and Hippopotamus live alongside the greatest density of Western Lowland Gorilla in Africa, the highest numbers of Chimpanzee yet recorded for any central African forest block, and a further nine diurnal and five nocturnal primates. Clouds of spectacular butterflies are characteristic of the region, whilst close to 440 bird species have been recorded here.
The trees are spectacular: ancient giants well over 50 metres tall emerge from the canopy, delicate orchids cling to the branches and the forest floor is littered with an incredible array of pods, fruits, flowers and fungi.
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