© Pete Oxford
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From left to right: Leon Lamprecht, African Parks Operations Director, Francophone Parks; Thomas Orr

The Embassy of the People͛s Republic of China in Brazzaville, Republic of  Congo, has donated US $70,000 to Odzala-Kokoua National Park which will be used for the repair and maintenance of 42 kilometres of road in the park.These roads connect the two tourist camps, Mboko and Lango, with the airstrip and the town of Mbomo.

 

The roads are used by Odzala eco-guard units to implement anti-poaching initiatives in the park. They also provide access for tourists who stay at the lodges operated by CCC (Congo Conservation Company) and who are attracted by the rich wildlife experiences on offer, especially opportunities to see elephants and gorillas in the wilds. Tourism creates employment and income for local communities who live outside the park.

This initiative by the Embassy of the People's Republic of China is the second collaboration of its kind with Odzala and has been fostered by Mr Henri Djombo, Minister of Forest Economy and Sustainable Development in the Republic of Congo; Mrs Saskia De Lang, EU Ambassador to the Congo; and Mr Pascal Ngoma, Interim Park Manager for Odzala.

 

"China is a signatory to the Washington Convention and as such works with other partners to translate the provisions of the Convention into concrete action, fighting poaching and the illegal trade of prohibited (wildlife) products, said Xia Huang, Ambassador for the People's Republic of China in the Republic of Congo. "This, our second financial contribution to Odzala-Kokoua National Park, reaffirms the Chinese Government's commitment to fighting these illegal activities." 

 

"We are grateful to the People's Republic of China for their continued interest and financial support of the country's iconic park, and its wildlife, thereby providing sustainable benefits for the Congolese people," said Pascal Ngoma, Interim Park Manager for Odzala. "This second tranche of funding for US$70,000 will be used to fund the park's anti-poaching efforts and improve access for tourists keen to discover its rich wildlife offerings."

 

Comprising 1 354 600 hectares in size, Odzala-Kokoua National Park located in the northwest of the Republic of Congo is an important stronghold for the remaining forest elephants and populations of western gorillas which face ongoing threats from poachers. Located in the heart of the second largest rainforest in the world, the biodiversity of the park is exceptional with over 400 species of birds, 114 species of mammals (including 16 primates) and more than 4 400 plant species. Local communities are permitted to harvest non-timber forest products and hunt and fish by traditional methods in the ecological development zone of the park.

 

The partnership agreement between the Congolese Ministry of Forest Economy and Sustainable Development, and African Parks, to manage Odzala-Kokoua National Park and promote its long term conservation for the benefit of the Congolese people was signed on November 14, 2010.