African Wildlife Wonderland Straddling Three Nations Gets World Heritage Recognition
The site called the Sangha Tri-National Protected Area (also known by its French acronym TNS) consists of a 25,000 km2 contiguous area across the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville), Cameroon, and the Central African Republic and marks the first World Heritage site that spans three nations. The core of the TNS is formed by three neighbouring national parks connected by the Sangha River and teems with gorillas, elephants, and chimpanzees.
According to Stefanie Conrad, regional representative of WWF for the Central Africa region; “This inscription is the culmination of over a decade of work by many dedicated people, ranging from protected area managers, central governments in the three countries, researchers, community leaders, private sector and financial partners to make the TNS a truly functional trans-boundary managed world class forest landscape. This World Heritage status will introduce the TNS to the rest of the world and lead to increased support for the continued protection of the area’s globally important biodiversity and for the people that depend on it.”
The TNS already benefits from long-term technical and financial support from WWF, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), a UK-registered trust fund called the TNS Foundation (FTNS), UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre, the UN Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP), and the governments of the U.S., Germany, France and Spain, along with private donors.
The World Heritage Site declaration marks the culmination of a vision dating from 2000 when the Governments of the Republic of Congo, Cameroon, and the Central African Republic, signed the TNS cooperation agreement, agreeing to work together to assure the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources of the Sangha Tri-National Protected Area complex .
The TNS has one of the lowest human footprints in equatorial Africa. Its habitat ranges from tropical forests, wetlands, and many types of natural forest clearings known as bais – some of which attract multiple gorilla groups simultaneously, while others host thousands of parrots. The bais are exceptional hubs for social and genetic exchanges for wildlife. Nowhere else do 100-plus forest elephants so frequently congregate in a given area, often with other large mammals such as bongo, sitatunga, forest buffalo, and giant forest hogs.
The new World Heritage Site is made up of a core 7,542 km2 consisting of Dzanga-Ndoki National Park in Central African Republic, Lobéké National Park in Cameroon, and Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in Congo. An additional 17,880 km2 buffer zone is managed for selective logging many of which have Forest Stewardship Council certification.