RAMSAR Sites in the Democratic Republic of Congo
The Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the most endowed places on Earth and there is nothing it doesn’t offer when it comes to tourism. Despite the insecurity due to tribal conflicts and rebel activities, the country has been able to maintain its extraordinary places including the Ramsar wetlands.
These Ramsar wetlands are very significant in the conservation of wildlife and their habitats in addition to offering a sanctuary to the extraordinary and endangered fauna and flora species that call the Democratic Republic of Congo home.
There are currently three magnificent Ramsar sites that were designated Wetlands of International Importance, and all together extend for a total Surface Area of 74356.24 square kilometers (7,435,624 hectares). These sites generally play an important role in the general conservation of the unique and endangered animals and plants in the region, much as the country has for years been affected by political unrest and civil wards hence the need to protect these vulnerable ecosystems. Therefore, the following are the Ramsar sites you can explore within the Democratic Republic of Congo.
- Mangroves National Park
Established Mangroves National Park, also referred as Marc Marine or Muanda Marine Reserve was gazetted in 1992 to protect the exceptional flora and fauna of the area and is one of the exceptional Protected Areas and Ramsar sites within the Democratic Republic of Congo. This Park is popular for its extraordinary mangroves forest that offers a home to the endangered Manatee population that inhabit the mouth of the Congo River. Much as the mangroves are said to be found in only South Asia, the Democratic Republic of Congo surprisingly have this type of vegetation much as they are said to be a distinct type. On top of the Manatee, other wildlife species such as bushbucks, crocodiles, reptiles especially snakes, hippos, reedbucks and many others.
- Virunga National Park
In addition, to be a Ramsar wetland of Importance, Virunga National Park is the top tourist destination mainly for gorilla safaris in the Democratic Republic of Congo and one of the best in Africa due to the presence of large numbers of the critically endangered mountain gorillas. This Park was originally established in 1925 as Albert National Park, making it one of the oldest Parks in Africa and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979 due to its outstanding biodiversity. Besides the mountain gorillas, the Park is rich with other species of wildlife including chimpanzees, forest elephants, forest buffaloes, giraffes and okapis in addition to more than 700 species of birds, numerous reptiles and Amphibians.
This part of the Democratic Republic of Congo is considered the World’s largest Ramsar wetland of International Importance extending for an area of 65,696 square kilometers (6,569,600 hectares), twice the size of Belgium and Maryland and surrounds Lake Tumba on the western section of the Congo River Basin.
The landscape of this Ramsar wetland is characterized by seasonal Lakes, extensive forests and marshlands of great economic and ecological value. Even with its beauty and significance, the Tumba-Ngiri-Maindombe is threatened due to corruption from the government as well as a rapidly growing population not forgetting illegal activities such as poaching.
Therefore, the Democratic Republic of Congo, one of Africa’s endowed tourist destinations is endowed with three Ramsar sites that include Tumba-Ngiri-Maindombe, Virunga National Park and Mangroves National Park.