Sankuru Nature Reserve

Sankuru Nature Reserve is a protected area in the Democratic Republic of the Congo which was gazetted in November 2007 at 30,570 square kilometers.  The Reserve is the world’s largest continuous protected area for great apes and is home to bonobo, okapi, and African forest elephant.

sankuru-nature-reserveThis important site began at the grassroots level with local communities and is the first large-scale reserve in the Congo to be managed by the indigenous people. In addition to protecting great apes, this reserve is also a vital part of our environmental initiatives: REDD+, watershed protection, and species conservation.

Regarding the environmental Impact, Sankuru Nature Reserve is a major achievement in the fight against global warming. Nearly 20% of annual greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation and other related habitat destruction. Keeping this rich tropical forest intact will make an important contribution to global efforts to reduce emissions while simultaneously conserving biodiversity. The Sankuru Reserve stores up to 660 million tons of carbon, which if released by deforestation would emit up to 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide, comparable to emissions from 38,000,000 cars per year for 10 years.

Sankuru is the recipient of the first REDD+ (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) contract in the DRC, indicating its vital role in pioneering a new paradigm for community-led conservation. In addition to combating climate change, the REDD+ strategy also protects ecosystem diversity and helps to ensure the livelihoods and welfare of the local people.

The wildlife diversity in Sankuru natural reserve is staggering. In addition to the bonobo, the Sankuru Reserve contains the okapi (Okapia johnstoni), an exotic short necked forest giraffe also native to the DRC, but not previously found outside of their known range far to the northeast. In 2006, survey teams from the Congo’s Centre de Recherche en Écologie et Foresterie (CREF) sponsored by BCI made this exciting discovery. Sankuru also contains elephants, which have been hunted out in many other areas of the Congo forest, plus at least 10 other species of primates, including the rare owl faced monkey and blue monkey.

The river flow in Sankuru Nature Reserve includes the Lomela River which flows in a northwest direction from the Sankuru Nature Reserve and across the Salonga National Park. The Busira River forms a few miles west of Boende where the Lomela River joins the Tshuapa River from the left. The Tshuapa rises in the southeast of the Sankuru Nature Reserve and meanders north-northwest and then west-northwest direction to its confluence with the Lomela River. The Lukenie River rises near Katako-Kombe to the south of the reserve.