Research and Discovery in the Goualougo Triangle
The Congo Basin is considered among the last strongholds for protecting tropical forest biodiversity. Located in the heart of this region, the Goualougo Triangle of the Nouabale-Ndoki National Park is one of the most important forest-rich regions, with enormous potential for conserving animal and plant diversity.
The goal of the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project (GTAP) is to ensure the long-term survival of both chimpanzees and gorillas. Success depends on understanding which plant resources are most important to these endangered apes. An intensive botanical inventory program with missions in both pristine and recently logged forests will assist in addressing ape needs.
It’s exciting to note the ongoing surveys are led by the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project’s resident botanist, Mr. Sydney Ndolo-Ebika (above, right). Sydney is one of a few Congolese holding a master’s in botany; his enthusiasm and skill for plant taxonomy are apparent.
Remarkably, 29 of the 186 species Mr. Ndolo identified from his initial surveys are new records to the Sangha Trinational conservation landscape, a region covering nearly 28,000 square kilometers and three national parks. This region has also been the focus of intensive past botanical studies from the foremost botanical experts on Central African plants.
Uncovering these new specimens indicates we have only begun to understand the plant richness of these forests—and how this richness is interlinked with great ape survival. These new discoveries also highlight the value the GTAP’s synergistic approach to optimizing ape research and conservation biodiversity. Developing more informed chimpanzee and gorilla conservation plans that include the ape’s environmental needs will now be possible.