Congolian Coastal Forests - A Global Ecoregion

Petit Loango National Park Sunset with silhouette of palm trees near Setté Cama, Gabon. rel=
Petit Loango National Park Sunset with silhouette of palm trees near Setté Cama, Gabon.
© WWF / Olivier LANGRAND

About the Area

The Congolian coastal forests, likely to be the most diverse in the Afrotropics, are made up of Cross-Sanaga-Bioko coastal forests; Sao Tome and Principe moist lowland forests; and Atlantic Equatorial coastal forests.

These terrestrial ecoregions form part of the vast central African rainforests that cover a much larger area than those of West Africa and contain some of the highest numbers of plants and animals in Africa.

This region is known for numerous regional and local endemic species, including many that are restricted to the nearby islands of São Tomé & Príncipe. It is widely believed that the areas surrounding Calabar and Cross River State contain the world's largest diversity of butterflies.

The coastal forests receive the highest rainfall in Africa - over 33 feet (10 m) per year, with warm to hot temperatures hovering within a narrow range.
Size:
243,000 km2 (94,000 miles2

Habitat type:
Tropical and Subtropical Moist Broadleaf Forests

Geographic Location:
Atlantic Coast of Central Africa

Conservation Status:
Critical/Endangered

Local Species

Mammal species include mandrill (Mandrillus leucophaeus), flightless scaly-tailed squirrel (Zenkerella insignis), long-tailed pangolin (Manis tetradactyla), black colobus monkey (Colobus satanas), northern needle-clawed bushbaby (Euoticus pallidus), and sun-tailed monkey (Cercopithecus solatus).

Other species include Goliath frog (Conraua goliath), and numerous endemic birds like Bates's weaver (Ploceus batesi), Gabon batis (Batis minima), Giant sunbird (Nectarinia thomensis), Dohrn's thrush-babbler (Horizorhinus dohrni), Dwarf olive ibis (Bostrychiabocagei), and São Tomé grosbeak (Neospiza concolor).

Giant ginger (Aframomum giganteum), the tallest species of ginger in the world and a favoured food of the lowland gorilla, is also native to this ecoregion. Another notable plant is the Dioscorea, a native yam that is a staple crop for many local people. The moist environment is also suitable for small trees that produce cola-fruits, a popular food for primates, squirrels, and humans.
Sun-tailed Monkey (<i>Cercopithecus solatus</i>), endangered, endemic to Gabon. / ©: WWF-Canon / Martin HARVEY
Sun-tailed Monkey (Cercopithecus solatus), endangered, endemic to Gabon.
© WWF-Canon / Martin HARVEY

Featured Species

The Goliath frog (Conraua goliath), an African frog of genus Conraua, can grow up to 13 inches in length from head to vent, and weighs up to 7 lb. It is the largest frog on Earth and is renowned for its incredible leaping ability, jumping up to 10 feet in one bound. However, it is usually exhausted after 2 or 3 such leaps.

This animal has a relatively small habitat range, mainly in West Africa. Its numbers are dwindling due to habitat destruction and collection for the pet trade. It is large enough to swallow a duck and can live up to the age of 15 years.

It is normally found in fast flowing rivers with sandy bottoms in the West African countries of Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea. Due to their classification as 'endangered', the Equatorial Guinean government has declared that no more than 300 Goliaths may be exported out of the country per year. Fortunately for the frogs, even the most experienced of animal collectors can usually find no more than a dozen per trip.

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Threats

Agricultural expansion, hunting, commercial logging, and anthropogenic fires pose significant threats to the ecoregion.


GWZ (International Dutch Co.) cuts the best hardwood trees, here a Lindani Tree, Cameroon. / ©: WWF-Canon / N.C. TURNER
GWZ (International Dutch Co.) cuts the best hardwood trees, here a Lindani Tree, Cameroon.
© WWF-Canon / N.C. TURNER

WWF's work

From its Central Africa Regional Programme Office (CARPO) in Yaoundé, Cameroon, WWF coordinates conservation work in the Central African sub-region.

On the ground, WWF and partners help create protected areas, work with logging companies to control bushmeat, and promote good forest management practices. A big focus is on integrating local communities, notably indigenous forest people such as BaAka pygmies in the use of natural resources to improve their welfare.

WWF-Netherlands, Committee for IUCN-Netherlands and Friends of the Earth-Netherlands have joined forces to develop the Central Africa Forests and Poverty Alleviation Programme (CAFPAP). This programme has been developed within the framework of the Natural Livelihood Resources and Poverty Alleviation (NLRPA) programme.

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R. Nakonji (centre with scarf), community development officer for the Korup National Park project, ... / ©: WWF-Canon / Sandra MBANEFO OBIAGO
R. Nakonji (centre with scarf), community development officer for the Korup National Park project, teaches village women income generating activities such as handicrafts. Fabe village, bordering Korup National Park, Cameroon.
© WWF-Canon / Sandra MBANEFO OBIAGO

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