CONGO RAINFOREST TOUR
Congo Rainforest Slideshow
30+ pictures and maps from the Congo rainforest
Forest elephant in Gabon
The Congo Rainforest
Satellite image: Congo basin countries
The Congo rainforest is the world's second largest rainforest after the Amazon.
Map: Congo basin countries
Six countries -- Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Equatorial Guinea and Gabon -- share the 1.5 million square mile Congo basin.
Map: Congo basin countries
The majority of the Congo rainforest lies in DRC.
Google Earth image of the Sankuru River in DRC
The Congo rainforest is drained by the Congo river, which is Africa's most powerful river and the second largest river (by volume) in the world, after the Amazon river and its tributaties.
Baby lowland gorilla
The Congo rainforest is famous for its people as well as its wildlife.
African pygmies and a European explorer. From Collier's New Encyclopedia, Volume 1 (1921), author: Keystone View Company.
The Congo is home of the so-called "pygmies", who are known for their short-stature.
Gabonese child
The term "pygmy" is a bit misleading; there are actually several different tribes, including the Mbuti, Aka, Baka, and Twa.
Mushroom in Gabon
All of these tribes have great knowledge about the rainforest ecosystem and wildlife.
Gabonese boy
"Pygmies" are traditionally nomadic, but their culture is fast-changing due to deforestation and migration by other populations into their forest home.
Logging concession in Gabon
In most countries "pygmies" have few land-rights, so they lose out to logging companies, plantation developers, and mining firms.
Forest elephant in Gabon
The Congo rainforest supports untold numbers of plant and animal species.
Red river hog
Some of the best known Congo rainforest animals are:
Male silverback gorilla
lowland and mountain gorillas, both which are endangered;
Forest elephant
forest elephants, which are smaller and more threatened than savanna elephants;
Okapi
the okapi, a strange forest giraffe that was only discovered in 1899;
Chimpanzee in Uganda
chimpanzees and bonobos;
Tree-climbing lion in Uganda
and many of the familiar "safari animals" including hippos, lions, antelopes, and leopards.
Rainforest river in Gabon
The Congo rainforest is important beyond providing a home for plants and animals.
Gabon rainforest at sunrise
Forests help protect against flooding and drought.
Aerial view of a rainforest river in Gabon
The Congo affects global weather patterns including contributing to rainfall as far away as the U.S. Midwest.
Aerial view of the Gabonese rainforest
Forests reduce soil erosion and landslides, especially in mountainous areas.
Mangrove roots in Gabon
Forests are a source of food, building materials, and medicine.
Rainforest leaf
Forests absorb carbon dioxide as they grow, helping fight climate change.
Logs in transport in Gabon
But the Congo rainforest is increasingly under threat.
Rainforest logging
Logging has damaged large areas in the Congo.
Google Earth image of forest loss on the edge of the Congo basin
Small-scale farming has taken a toll, especially near cities and towns.
Baby crocodile in Gabon
The bushmeat trade is very serious in some Congo rainforest countries. Large quantities of wildlife are hunted by commercial poachers who sell the meat to people in cities, sometimes as far away as New York.
Mine
Mining has also caused damage to forests and rivers in some parts of the Congo.
Tractors near a patch of rainforest
Large-scale famers and plantation developers are now investing in some countries. There are fears industrial agricultural development could cause deforestation, without generating much income for local people.
Google Earth image of small-scale deforestation
But while deforestation remains a concern in the Congo rainforest, there are a few reasons for hope.
Butterfly in Gabon
The international community is working with Congo governments to find new ways to fund rainforest conservation.
Crocodile
Many good organizations are working to protect wildlife and support local communities in the Congo.
Highland rainforest
Still a lot needs to be done to help Congo countries protect their forests.
Rainforest and savanna in Gabon
There are things you can do to help.
Log on a beach in Gabon
Tell your friends and parents about the Congo rainforest what is happening to it.
Male mandrill, a type of baboon
Be sure to recycle and reduce energy use. Try to produce as little garbage as possible.
Recently cut rainforest tree
Ask questions about the products you and your family buys. Do these products harm the environment? What is the origin of the paper you use?
African rainforeset
Join an organization that is working to protect Congo rainforests.
Rhett Butler in the rainforest
This tour was created by Rhett A. Butler, the founder of mongabay.com.
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