Salonga National Park
Wild, remote Salonga National Park and World Heritage Site is one of the world’s largest rain forest reserves, 14,400 square miles (37,296 km2) in the heart of the Congo (Zaire) River basin with such rare and endangered species as dwarf or pygmy chimpanzees; beautiful Congo peacocks; three kinds of heavily armored pangolins—tree, giant ground, and long-tailed; and forest elephants.
Leopards drink at streams with small, fierce African golden cats, Congo water civets, and an array of forest browsers and grazers—bongos, bushbucks, rare pygmy Cape buffalo, water chevrotains. Hippos occupy waterways with African slender-snouted or “false” crocodiles. Black and yellow-billed storks pluck small crustacea from stream edges.
It’s untamed, untouched Africa, for the most part as it’s existed for millenia. But though isolated and accessible only by water, Salonga has had serious problems with poaching, logging, and encroachment. Along with other DRC reserves, it is classified as a U.N. World Heritage Site in Danger, which may bring badly needed UNESCO funds for staff to patrol and protect it.
Salonga, at least until recently, is seldom visited because of transport difficulties and lack of facilities. Park entry is possible only by riverboat. The park is divided midway by a buffer strip, and once inside, movement is difficult. Rudimentary lodging, usually reserved for scientists, is sometimes available at Anga, where the chief conservator is based, and at Monkoto.
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