Created in 1993, Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park is one of the most intact areas of the Congo Basin’s rainforest, harboring globally significant populations of emblematic, endangered, large mammals, such as western lowland gorillas, chimpanzees, and forest elephants. Situated more than 900 km north of the Republic of the Congo’s capital city Brazzaville, and covering more than 4,000 square kilometers, the Park is one of the world’s most remote high-integrity wild places.
The forests of Nouabalé-Ndoki are full of precious biodiversity, home to many rare botanical species, ancient mahogany trees, and some of the most trafficked species in the world, such as pangolins and African grey parrots. It was estimated in 2017 that 8,000 elephants and 30,000 great apes live in and around the Park.
The Park neighbors the Lobéké National Park in Cameroon and the Dzanga-Sangha Protected Areas in the Central African Republic, thereby forming the Sangha Tri-National (TNS) transboundary conservation area: a 25,000 square kilometer UNESCO World Heritage Site dedicated to wildlife conservation, in which no less than 116 species of mammals and 429 species of birds are found.
While there are no people living inside the boundaries of the Park, around 25,000 people call the periphery their home. These people get direct benefits from wildlife conservation, including better access to education, healthcare, and stable employment. A significant number of people from the two closest villages of Bomassa and Makao work for the park as ecoguards, trackers, researchers, drivers, and accountants, ensuring the day-to-day running and management of the protected area.
These communities played a key role in supporting the research and mapping that led to the creation of the Park in 1993. Older generations have passed on their responsibilities to the younger generation, including fathers and sons from Indigenous communities who work together to this day at Mondika, sharing their knowledge of the ecosystem and
the gorillas they track.
By relying on this unique expertise, the Park has been able to create permanent research sites in the heart of the forest. At the Mondika, Mbeli Baï, and Goualougo research sites, scientific data has been collected continuously on the ecology and behavior of various animal species for more than 20 years. This includes the longest continuous study on Western lowland gorillas and second longest continuous study on forest elephants in the world.
These long-term research sites have enabled the training of dozens of researchers, both Congolese and from around the world, and have led to major advances in our understanding of these ecosystems.
The habituation of five groups of western lowland gorillas, and a community of chimpanzees, to the presence of humans allows direct observation of these primates – both by researchers and tourists. Despite the longevity of this work, many aspects of the behavior of these species still remains to be discovered and understood.
The Park's long-term commitment to the communities for the benefit of wildlife and science is the guarantee of a sustainable future for this unique place and its people, to protect and promote one of the last truly wild paradises on Earth.