HABITAT AND DIVERSITY

The vast green wilderness that is Odzala-Kokoua National Park has a multitude of habitats. In general, the north of the Park has dense forest covering many steep-sloped hills, while in the west a major escarpment runs roughly north-south from which the altitude drops 350 metres into low swampy forest. 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 primary feature is the occurrence of “bais” or salines. 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. These bais range in size from less than a hectare to more than ten hectares and represent the best chance of seeing forest wildlife. The bais we visit in Odzala-Kokoua are relatively small and as a result offer the opportunity for close up viewing of various species.

This vast, wild region, with its wide range of landscapes, is home to an incredible diversity of life. It holds globally significant populations of Western Lowland Gorilla and Forest Elephant as well as a plethora of other species: 430 bird species and more than 100 mammal species of which around 50 are classified as medium- or large-sized. It has the highest number (11) of diurnal primates for any forest block in central Africa, as well as central Africa’s highest density of Chimpanzees.

Other species include Forest Buffalo, Leopard, Bongo, Giant Forest Hog and Hippo. Clouds of spectacular butterflies are characteristic of the region. The trees are spectacular: ancient giants well over 50 metres tall emerge from the canopy, delicate orchids cling to the branches, while the forest floor is littered with an incredible array of pods, fruits, flowers and fungi.