Central African Republic

African Cuckoo-Hawk Aviceda cuculoides ©Jason Boyce Website
Birding the Central African Republic

The Central African Republic (CAR), is a landlocked country in Central Africa. It borders Chad in the north, Sudan in the east, the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the south, and Cameroon in the west.Most of the CAR consists of Sudano-Guinean savannas but it also includes a Sahelo-Sudanese zone in the north and an equatorial forest zone in the south. Two thirds of the country lies in the basins of the Ubangi River, which flows south into the Congo River, while the remaining third lies in the basin of the Chari River, which flows north into Lake Chad.The Central African Republic is one of the poorest countries in the world and among the ten poorest countries in Africa.In 2001 The Ecologist magazine estimated that Central African Republic is the world’s leading country in sustainable development.

Much of the country consists of flat, or rolling plateau savanna, typically about 1,640 feet (500 m) above sea level. In the northeast are the Fertit Hills, and there are scattered hills in southwest part of the country. To the northwest is the Yade Massif, a granite plateau with an altitude of 3,750 feet (1,143 m).

At 240,519 mi² (622,984 km²), the Central African Republic is the world’s 43rd-largest country (after Somalia). It is comparable in size to Ukraine, and is somewhat smaller than the US state of Texas.Much of the southern border is formed by tributaries of the Congo River, with the Mbomou River in the east merging with the Uele River to form the Ubangi River. In the west, the Sangha River flows through part of the country. The eastern border lies along the edge of the Nile river watershed.Estimates of the amount of the country covered by forest ranges up to 8%, with the densest parts in the south. The forest is highly diverse, and includes commercially important species of Ayous, Sapelli and Sipo. The deforestation rate is 0.4% per annum, and lumber poaching is commonplace.The climate of the C.A.R. is generally tropical. The northern areas are subject to harmattan winds, which are hot, dry, and carry dust. The northern regions have been subject to desertification, and the northeast is desert. The remainder of the country is prone to flooding from nearby rivers.In the November 2008 issue of National Geographic, the Central African Republic was named the country least affected by light pollution.

The wilderness regions of this country have potential as ecotourist destinations. The country is noted for its population of forest elephants. In the southwest, the Dzanga-Sangha National Park is a rain forest area. To the north, the Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park has been well-populated with wildlife, including leopards, lions, and rhinos. To the northeast the Bamingui-Bangoran National Park. However the population of wildlife in these parks has severely diminished over the past 20 years due to poaching, particularly from the neighboring Sudan.

The Central African Republic Bush War began in 2004 and, despite a peace treaty in 2007 and another in 2011, fighting broke out between various factions in December 2012, leading to ethnic and religious cleansing of the Muslim minority and massive population displacement in 2013 and 2014.

As of 2015, according to the Human Development Index (HDI), the country had the lowest level of human development, ranking 188th out of 188 countries. It is also estimated to be the unhealthiest country as well as the worst country in which to be young.

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 792

    (As at September 2018)
  • iGoTerra 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
  • African Bird Club

    The Central African Republic is a developing nation that has experienced several periods of political instability since independence from France in 1960. Although it has a number of National Parks, facilities for tourism are limited. It has pristine forests and lively cities but also a lawless countryside and crumbling roads
  • West African Ornithological Society

    The West African Ornithological Society grew out of the Nigerian Ornithologists

Abbreviations Key

  • NP & BR Bamingui-Bangoran

    InformationSatellite View
    Bamingui-Bangoran's major ecosystem is characterized as tropical dry or deciduous forests while the major habitats and land covers are dry forests, wooded savannas, edaphic savannas, and gallery forests...
  • NP Andre Felix

    InformationSatellite View
    It is home to a jungle forest savannah with Bambousa, Isoberlinia and Terminalia. The main species of fauna found are ostriches, buffaloes, crocodiles, elephants, giraffes, hippos, lions, panthers, wild boars among others.
  • NP Dzanga-Ndoki

    InformationSatellite View
    The national park is split into two non-continuous sectors, the northern Dzanga sector (or Dzanga Park) 49,500 ha (122,000 acres) and the southern Ndoki sector (or Ndoki Park) 72,500 ha (179,000 acres). Notable in the Dzanga sector is a gorilla density of 1.6/km2 (4.1/sq mi), one of the highest densities ever reported for the western lowland gorilla. Some 357 species have been reported from the National Park in the wider sense (in part the result of an incomplete survey over some two years, plus further shorter visits). Of these species, at least 260 can be expected to breed…
  • NP Manovo-Gounda-St Floris

    InformationSatellite View
    Some 320 species of birds have been identified, with at least 25 species of raptor including bataleur Terathopius ecaudatus, and African fish eagle Cumcuma vocifer…
  • NP Mbaéré Bodingué

    InformationSatellite View
    It covers 872 km²
Trip Reports
  • 2010 [09 September] - Sjef Öllers - Cameroon, Congo and Central African Republic

    PDF Report
    …I more or less accidentally found a tour to Congo and Central African Republic offered by Steppes Travel. The tour schedule looked excellent with almost two weeks spent in the Dzanga-Sangha area and the adjoining Nouabalé-Ndoki national park. Although normally we don’t like joining group tours, the interesting tour schedule convinced us to give it a try….

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