WCS Congo

Nouabale-Ndoki NP

Created in 1993, the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park (NNNP), situated in the Sangha and Likouala department in northern Republic of Congo, covers an area of 4,238.7 km2 and is home to important populations of forest elephants, western lowland gorillas, chimpanzees, bongo, and many other endangered mammals.

The Nouabalé-Ndoki forest is part of the larger Sangha Trinational Forest Landscape that in July 2012, was nominated as a World Heritage Site. It extends over approx 35,000 kmand comprising a vast stretch of lowland Guineo-Congolian forest, rich in African mahoganies and large mammals with important forest clearings.  The entire park consists of pristine unlogged rainforest including a rich diversity of old growth endangered mahoganies, and boasts over 300 bird species, 1,000 plant and tree species, and intact populations of large mammals. These large mammals include several endangered species, such as western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla), chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes troglodytes), forest elephants (Loxodonta africana cyclotis), bongo (Tragelaphus euryceros), and forest buffalo (Synceruscaffer nanus). 

NNNP provides integral protection to wildlife through a collaborative management program between the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Congolese Ministry in charge of Forests and Water. The NNNP is a rare example of an intact forest wilderness, completely uninhabited by human settlers and with extremely low human population densities in the surrounding area.


Conservation Challenges

NNNP is surrounded by logging concessions and borders the other two national parks of the TNS. Park activities have focused on developing and implementing effective systems and strategies for protection, research and monitoring and administration, with substantial capacity building programs in all three domains. The focus is very much on adaptive management with structures and personnel in place in order to respond quickly and effectively to emergent threats in the landscape. 


Conservation Approach

In 1991 the Government of Congo, with several international partners, launched a bold effort to create and manage the first post-colonial, and only the second, National Park in the Republic of Congo.The Wildlife Conservation Society has collaborated with the Government in this effort in the Nouabalé-Ndoki forest since 1991.

The result of these efforts has seen the creation of Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in 1993 and its rise to the status of flagship project for the WCS Africa Program and a biodiversity conservation success for the Ministry and WCS-Congo and the region as a whole; the Park remains an intact forest ecosystem free of human disturbance or exploitation, with significant populations of large mammals.

Several large international projects were initiated to help in this effort. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded Congo Forest Conservation Project (CFC) lasted six years from 1991-1997. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) Congo Protected Areas Project ran for almost six years from 1994-1999.The Gesellschaft fur technische Zusammearbeit (GTZ) Nouabalé Ndoki Peripheral Zone Project lasted from 1993-1997.

The Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park has benefited from the USAID CARPE initiative, receiving funding during the first phase of the initiative as well as benefiting as a partner in the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) launched in 2003. Many of the conservation activities conducted within the National Park have also been funded by the USFWS Forest Elephant and Great Ape Conservation Funds. More recently funding through the TNS foundation has allowed to improve infrastructure and logistical operation.

The Sangha trinational is most active in areas such as anti-poaching, monitoring and ecotourism development. Regular binational and trinational anti-poaching patrols are conducted both along the Sangha river and inside all three of the national parks, focusing on those areas which are most vulnerable to cross-border incursions. A binational ecotourism circuit has been established between the Congo and CAR sectors of the Sangha trinational, and several groups of tourists are planned in 2006. It is hoped that this circuit will soon be completed with the addition of activities on the Cameroonian side of the border.

National governments and conservation NGOs from the three trinational countries first began working together to conserve biodiversity in the Sangha Trinational in the late 1980s. However, the Sangha Trinational was not officially created until December 2000 when an agreement was signed by the Ministers responsible for protected areas in Cameroon, Central African Republic and Congo.This cooperative agreement reflected the commitment of the three countries to collaborate in the management of the zone, and established the trinational management structures necessary to coordinate activities across the three countries.

The ComitéTri-National de Planification et d’Exécution (CTPE) has been the most active committee with meetings twice each year.  It has the primary responsibility of reviewing all relevant trinational activities and problems,as well as planning for future joint activities.



Various activities are conducted in the NNNP in close collaboration with the buffer zone project (PROGEPP), such as:

  • Anti-poaching missions andlaw enforcement monitoring
  • Ecotourism
  • Conservation education
  • Community relationships
  • Ecological monitoring (landscape large mammal monitoring, forest clearings, phenology, TEAM)
  •  Long-term great ape research sites (Goualougo Triangle Ape Study, Mbeli Bai Study, Mondika Research Centre)
  • Socio-economic monitoring (demographics, village hunting, sustainable fisheries etc)


Whereas the NNNP remains almost untouched from illegal human activities, the following threats in the buffer zone of the National Park are quickly approaching the borders of NNNP:

  • Illegal elephant killing
  • Bushmeat hunting



Due to its importance as an area of outstanding biodiversity, the NNNP was recently awarded World Heritage Site status in July 2012. 



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WCS Congo Program
B.P. 14537 Brazzaville, Republic of Congo
+(242) 05 722 7411

Key Staff

Thomas Breuer
Project Director
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