Congo River & Flooded Forests

About the Area

Congo River and Flooded Forests (also known as the Congo Basin) contain a wide diversity of freshwater habitats, including swamps, lateral lakes, and floodplains, in addition to the main channel habitats of the Congo River. They are known to have the most diverse and distinctive large river faunas in tropical Africa.

With more than 700 fish species of which nearly 500 are endemic, the ecoregion is the second richest in the world for fish, with thirty-four rheophilic (current-loving) species adapted to survive in the highly oxygenated, swiftly moving rapids of the lower Congo River. Rain falls nearly year-round in the basin, averaging an incredible 5 to 8 feet per year, supporting a lush equatorial rain forest that's the second largest in the world after the Amazon.

The spawning of many fish species is synchronised with the phenomenon of flooding in this ecoregion that also allows nutrients from the terrestrial environment to enter the aquatic food chain and support the high diversity of fish.

Local Species
Endemic fish species include several Knifefish taxa; Malapterurus spp. (electric catfish), Campylomomyrus spp. (elephant-nosed fish), and the minnows - Varicorhinus brauni and V. iphthimostoma.

Many cichlid species, such as Shiloango (Chromidotilapia sp.), Nanochromis consortus, Steatocranus casuarius, the spectacular Hemichromis lifalili, and the wider-ranging H. fasciatusi are of great interest to aquarists. These waters are also home to the clawless river otter (Aonyx congica) and dwarf crocodile (Osteolaenus tetraspis). Endemic or near-endemic aquatic mammals include Giant otter shrew (Potamogale velox) and Allen's swamp monkey (Allenopithecus nigroviridis).

Threats
Growing urban centres and the resultant increase freshwater pollution, logging operations (that impair water quality through sedimentation), and a few industrial-scale mining operations pose threats to these flooded forests.

Resources

Size:
Nearly 4,000,000 sq. km

Habitat type:
Large Rivers

Geographic Location:
Central Africa: Angola, the DRC, and the Republic of Congo

Conservation Status:
Relatively Stable/Intact

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