Luo Scientific Reserve

Also referred as “Reserve Scientifique de Luo”, Luo Scientific Reserve is one of the most outstanding Protected Areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo and is set within the secluded Ikela Territory of Tshuapa Province. This stunning Reserve was gazetted in 1990 through the Cooperation between Japanese Researchers and the Research Center for Ecology and Forestry within the Democratic Republic of Congo. The main aim of its establishment was to protect and conduct research of the endangered Bonobos as well as other outstanding primates that live along the shores of River Luo (also known as River Maringa).

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So far, a total of between 173 and 231 Bonobos live within Luo Scientific Reserve, although their population is said to be reducing. Luo Scientific Reserve extends for about 185 square miles (481 square kilometers) of Tropical/sub-tropical swamp forest, Tropical/sub-tropical moist lowland evergreen forest. Sitting within the Territory of the Bongando people, this Protected Area makes it possible for travellers to experience unique cultures and traditions of this Congolese tribe. The Reserve sits on an area with altitude ranges of 300 to 400 meters above sea level, with annual rainfall levels reaching 2900 millimeters

Talking of Bonobos, Research began close to Wamba Village in 1973 by a team of Japanese scientists, although it never lasted due to political instabilities from 1991, followed by Civil war in 1997. Although efforts are being made to protect and undertake research on these endangered primates, a number of threats are still experienced and these include habitat encroachment from agricultural activities as well as poaching/hunting. However, the southern part of this Reserve features a wide and undisturbed forest with low human population. A station for scientific Research was established in 1992 by a Congolese Research Center and Japanese Researchers which encompassed the southern and northern sectors on both banks of River Luo. For the two significant Civil war periods (between 1996 and 2003), the Bonobos within the northern sector tremendously reduced by 40% because they were being hunted by soldiers and local community members alike while the ones in the southern side vanished from half of the region.

Most conservation projects in Luo Scientific Reserve are focused on sensitizing and educating locals on conservation of these endangered primates, energy production and mining, adopting biological resource use, maintaining infrastructures as well as providing medical services. As a way of respecting the culture and traditions as well as lives of Wamba people, the establishment of the Reserve didn’t lead to eviction of people but involved mutual coexistence of the people and the Protected Area (with Bonobos).