The country’s rain forests contain great biodiversity, including many rare and endemic species, such as both species of chimpanzee: the common chimpanzee and the bonobo (also known as the Pygmy Chimpanzee). Five of the country’s national parks are listed as World Heritage Sites: the Garumba, Kahuzi-Biega, Salonga and Virunga National Parks, and the Okapi Wildlife Reserve. The civil war and resultant poor economic conditions have endangered much of this biodiversity. Many park wardens were either killed or could not afford to continue their work. All five sites are listed by UNESCO as World Heritage In Danger.
The ecoregion is home to the endangered Western Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla), African Forest Elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis), and Okapi (Okapia johnstoni)
A population of ‘super-sized’ chimpanzees, the so-called Bili Apes that the local people say eat the birds in area, has been reported from Bili Forest in the far north, about 200 km east of Bondo, DR Congo. University of Amsterdam scientists observed the animals eating the carcass of a leopard. No scientific evidence has been presented that they hunt and kill big cats, though the Bili chimpanzees exhibit unusual behaviour such as sleeping in large nests on the ground rather than in trees, indicating a possible lack of fear of such predators.
Animals native to the Democratic Republic of the Congo:
African Bush Elephant
African Golden Cat
African Palm Civet
African Striped Weasel
Eastern Lowland Gorilla
Gallagher’s free-tailed bat
Giant forest hog
Red River Hog
Western Lowland Gorilla
The ecoregion contains areas of permanently flooded swamp forest, seasonally flooded swamp forest, and flooded grassland. The permanently flooded swamp forests are home to extensive stands of Raphia palm. Trees in the seasonally flooded forests include species of Garcinia and Manilkara.
The Western Congolian swamp forests are an ecoregion of the Republic of the Congo and the DMC. Together with the adjacent Eastern Congolian swamp forests, it forms one of the largest continuous areas of freshwater swamp forest in the world. It is a flooded forest with a high canopy, dense undergrowth and has a muddy floor. It has not been disturbed very much by outside influences and so remains largely pristine as getting through this forest is called “almost impossible”.