The Republic of Congo has officially created its fifth national park, lending protection to great apes, forest elephants and other threatened wildlife.
The new Ogooué-Leketi National Park spans 3,500 sq km, and forms a transboundary protected area of more than 5,500 sq km with Batéké Plateau National Park in neighbouring Gabon.
The area is a unique patchwork of large rolling savannahs on sandy hills, interrupted by strips of dense forests and river valleys. It is home to several threatened species, including the endangered western lowland gorilla, the central chimpanzee, forest elephant, forest buffalo, red river hog and the mandrill.
According to Wildlife Conservation Society Congo, which has been surveying the area since 2004, the designation of Ogooué-Leketi NP comes after three logging concessions that overlapped the proposed park area were closed down. WCS-Congo and the government are now working with local communities to draw up a management plan for the national park. Hopefully the area will welcome tourists before too long.