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Republic of the Congo

Parrot
African Grey Parrot Psittacus erithacus ©Jason Boyce Website

Birding The Republic of the Congo

The Republic of the Congo also known as the Congo Republic, or Congo-Brazzaville, is a country located in Central Africa. It is located in the central-western part of sub-Saharan Africa, along the Equator, lying between latitudes 4°N and 5°S, and longitudes 11° and 19°E. To the south and east of it is the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is also bounded by Gabon to the west, Cameroon and the Central African Republic to the north, and Cabinda (Angola) to the southwest. It has a short coast on the Atlantic Ocean.

The region was dominated by Bantu-speaking tribes, who built trade links leading into the Congo River basin. Congo-Brazzaville was formerly part of the French colony of Equatorial Africa. Upon independence in 1960, the former colony of French Congo became the Republic of the Congo. The People's Republic of the Congo was a Marxist–Leninist one-party state from 1970 to 1991. Multi-party elections have been held since 1992, although a democratically elected government was ousted in the 1997 Republic of the Congo Civil War and President Denis Sassou Nguesso has ruled for 33 of the past 38 years.

The political stability and development of hydrocarbon production made Republic of the Congo the fourth largest oil producer in the Gulf of Guinea and provided the country with a relative prosperity despite the poor state of its infrastructure and public services and an unequal distribution of oil revenues.

The capital, Brazzaville, is located on the Congo River, in the south of the country, immediately across from Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The southwest of the country is a coastal plain for which the primary drainage is the Kouilou-Niari River; the interior of the country consists of a central plateau between two basins to the south and north. Forests are under increasing exploitation pressure.

Since the country is located on the Equator, the climate is consistent year-round, with the average day temperature a humid 24 °C (75 °F) and nights generally between 16 °C (61 °F) and 21 °C (70 °F). The average yearly rainfall ranges from 1,100 millimetres (43 in) in the Niari Valley in the south to over 2,000 millimetres (79 in) in central parts of the country. The dry season is from June to August, while in the majority of the country the wet season has two rainfall maxima: one in March-May and another in September-November.

In 2006-2007, researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society studied gorillas in heavily forested regions centred on the Ouesso district of the Sangha Region. They suggest a population on the order of 125,000 Western Lowland Gorillas, whose isolation from humans has been largely preserved by inhospitable swamps.

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 728

(As at September 2018)

Endemics

Checklist

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Useful Reading

Birds of Western Africa

By Nik Borrow & Ron Demey | Christopher Helm | 2014 | Edition 2 | Paperback | 592 pages, 266 plates with colour illustrations; colour distribution maps |

ISBN: 9781472905680

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birds of Western and Central Africa

By Ber van Perlo | Princeton University Press | 2003 | Paperback | 384 pages, 109 plates with colour illustrations; colour & b/w illustrations, 1500+ b/w distribution maps, colour maps |

ISBN: 0691007144

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Organisations

African Bird Club

Webpage

The Republic of the Congo has a bird list of over 600 species. Few birdwatchers, however, have visited the country and many parts are under-recorded. The political situation and safety concerns are such that this is likely to remain the case for some time. With such a wonderful range of habitats and a plethora of interesting species, one can only hope that opportunities to visit will increase in the near future.

West African Ornithological Society

Webpage

The West African Ornithological Society grew out of the Nigerian Ornithologists’ Society, which was founded in February 1964. Its object is to promote scientific interest in the birds of West Africa and to further the region’s ornithology, mainly by means of its journal Malimbus (formerly the Bulletin of the Nigerian Ornithologists’ Society). This journal is biannual and bilingual, a unique feature in Africa.The West African Ornithological Society grew out of the Nigerian Ornithologists’ Society, which was founded in February 1964. Its object is to promote scientific interest in the birds of West Africa and to further the region’s ornithology, mainly by means of its journal Malimbus (formerly the Bulletin of the Nigerian Ornithologists’ Society). This journal is biannual and bilingual, a unique feature in Africa.

Wildlife Conservation Society - Congo

Webpage

The Republic of Congo encompasses an extraordinary diversity of wildlife, habitats and culture; including one of the largest continuous stretches of intact rainforest in central Africa and the indigenous forest people who call it home. The Wildlife Conservation Society’s largest country program has been working to save Congo’s wildlife and wild places for almost three decades. Protecting this astonishing biodiversity means saving wild places that sustain the local people, protect natural resources, and buffer global climate change.

Reserves

Abbreviations Key

Important Bird Areas

Information

The avifauna of the Congo is still incompletely documented and large parts of the country including the Chaillu massif and the Likouala swamp-forests remain unexplored. Wetlands are mainly in the form of seasonally flooded forests which are not attractive to migratory waterbirds, while coastal and inland mudflats are very small. In general, the position of the country on the southern edge of the Guinea-Congo forest block means that it is of little importance as a refuge for migratory species…

NP Conkouati-Douli

Information

Satellite View

CDNP is the most biodiverse park in the country and includes the only marine protected area in Congo. It is a priority site for great apes in the IUCN great ape conservation action plan because it includes around 8,000 central chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and 2,000 Western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla). The park also houses some 1000 forest elephants (Loxodonta africana cyclotis) and is a RAMSAR site for its importance for migratory and wetland birds. Its beaches are amongst the most important in the world for nesting of leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) and 5 species of marine turtles visit the beaches.

NP Nouabalé-Ndoki

Information

Satellite View

Situated in the north of the Republic of Congo (Congo-Brazzaville); the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park was created in 1993 to conserve, in its natural state, one of the last examples of an untouched wilderness in the world. The Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park is one of the largest parks in the forested regions of central-west Africa, and contains almost 2% of all Congo's forests…

NP Ntokou-Pikounda

Information

Satellite View

Ntokou-Pikounda National Park is a 4,572-square-kilometre (1,130,000-acre) protected area in the Congo Basin of the Republic of the Congo. The park also has an estimated 8,000 forest elephants and 950 chimpanzees.

NP Odzala-Kokoua

Information

Satellite View

Odzala-Kokoua National Park is some 13 600 square kilometres (1 360 million hectares) of pristine rainforest and is an integral part of both the Congo Basin and the TRIDOM Transfrontier Park overlapping Gabon, Congo and Central African Republic. Approximately 440 bird species have been recorded in the park. Species include the African fish eagle, black-backed cisticola, black-throated apalis, black-winged pratincole, eastern wattled cuckooshrike, forest robin, forest wood hoopoe, great snipe, green pigeon, grey parrot, grey-headed broadbill, lesser kestrel, Pel's fishing owl, pied kingfisher, red-capped crombec, red-throated cliff swallow, Uganda woodland warbler, and yellow-capped weaver. Herons, hornbills, and kingfishers are also present, including the goliath heron, black dwarf hornbill, and giant kingfisher

Trip Reports

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2010 [09 September] - Sjef Öllers - Cameroon, Congo and Central African Republic

PDF Report

...The birding had many ups and down: not seeing bare- cheeked trogon, Sangha robin and rufous-sided broad bill was very disappointing, but we had excellent views of Congo serpent eagle, African finfoot and many hornbill species. Undoubtedly, the birding highlight of the tour was a trip into unexplored territory with Rod Cassidy. At a magical place in the rainforest with a cascading waterfall and several steep rock faces we found an unknown and active breeding site for red-headed picathartes with at least seven active nests. We had unforgettable views of these near-mythical forest birds...