Conservation of Green Gabon

As Gabon’s national park concessioner, Gabon Wildlife Camps & Safaris’ mission is to create a unified and sustainable tourism development model for the preservation and protection of Gabon’s rich biodiversity. This includes working with leading conservation organisations, research institutes and local trackers who educate guests on the environmental effects of human impact and the significant ecosystems that are vital to the survival of all wildlife.

In the same way, our low-impact tented camps, bungalows and nature lodges serve as a benchmark in creating the most authentic ‘green safari’ experiences — from the way we source and use natural building materials, conserve water and implement the effective use of waste treatment and disposal, to the way we create sustainable menus and leave a soft footprint on all nature trails.

Our vision is to share Gabon’s most pristine assets not only with our guests but leave them in their wild, beautiful state for future generations.

[Above]: Unique eco-sytems that nurture sequestered worlds; in the trees, along the waterways and beneath the leaves on the forest floors. Minimal disturbances are not only vital in the ecological sustainability of the national parks but also serve as the foundation of our low-impact safaris.

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Parcs Gabon | Gabon’s Agence Nationale des Parcs Nationaux [ANPN] is the governing authority in charge of policing, maintaining and protecting the national park’s network of resources and biodiversity and is the largest contributor in the support of research and conservations programs.

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Lopé National Park | The Station d’Etudes des gorilles et chimpanzés was established over 30 years ago to study the ecology of Lopé’s key primates. Now under the management of the ANPN, its research work underscores important conservation policies in Gabon.

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Ivindo National Park | Ipassa Research Station at Ipassa Makokou Biosphere Reserve managed by Institute for Research for Tropical Ecology [IRET] — also the field base for Duke University’s study on Gabon’s pristine ecosystems and part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. 

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Loango National Park | Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology was established in the park to habituate western lowland gorillas and chimpanzees for The Loango Gorilla Project, a program tailored for eco-tourism and ongoing research.  

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Pongara National Park | Aventures Sans Frontières [ASF] is Pongara National Park’s NGO, providing the protection of nesting turtles and hatchlings along with their tagging and tracking for ongoing research. Additionally, Aventures Sans Frontières operates the sea turtle museum at Pongara.

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Ivindo National Park | Wildlife Conservation Society [WSC Gabon] carries out research and the monitoring of wildlife within Parcs Gabon’s network including the protected marine reserves. Its research station at Langoué baï is involved in the tracking and collating of field data on forest elephants and other mammals.

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Batéké Plateau National Park | The Aspinall Foundation headlines the Gorilla Protection Project in Batéké Plateau National Park, a program that traces captive-born western lowland gorillas back to their natural habitats in the protected network of Parcs Gabon.

gabon's custodians

There is a forest tree we often come across in Loango National Park — a towering behemoth covered in lichen and shavings of ancient bark. At the foot of its massive trunk lies an entanglement of roots — twisting and turning like a biblical serpent through the thick damp mulch and colourful fungi. Polypores in bewitching hues of burnt orange, wooded-brown and vermillion.

Our tracker, Karl crouches down to study them before he lightly scoops up a scattering of leaves. There’s nothing spectacular about the moment until he carefully turns them over his cupped hands. Suddenly, an explosion of black ants march towards his wrists and arms and another interconnected community is revealed — a frenetic yet hidden world where thousands of insects are altering and shaping the forest’s future evolution. 

Today, the tropical forests of Gabon occupy almost 85% of the country — over 22 million hectares of ancient ecosystems that nurture 969 recorded species including mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, and over 6650 species of vascular plants. And entwined in the trees are the spirits of Gabon’s forest-dwelling pygmies — the ‘people of the forest.’ Ancient sorcerers that play a pivotal role in Gabon’s Bwiti culture; one of three major religions practised throughout the country.

At the centre of the religious rituals is the iboga plant, which its hallucinogenic bark roots are used in the initiation rites of young men. It is a ritual many pygmy trackers have seen before. We listen to Karl tell his own story before he turns away to place one hand on the tree. He then leans in towards the trunk and remains very still just as the echo of lusty bird calls pierce the silence of the forest.

The ancient spirits soon speak to him

safeguarding gabon's gorillas

In 2005, the Loango Gorilla Project was established by the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology to focus on the long-term studies into the park’s western lowland gorillas’ ecology and behaviour. Along with conducting ongoing field research, the aim of the project was to also develop eco-tourism and community initiatives in collaboration with The National Agency for National Parks [ANPN].

In 2011, the Institute began habituating a small family of gorillas known as the Atananga troop. Their habituation involved daily and neutral interactions with researchers and the gorillas from a distance. The painstakingly slow but progressive approach not only helped eliminate potential aggression but also allowed the gorillas to accept humans as part of their natural environment. Following the success of the program, researchers began habituating another family of gorillas in Loango National Park in 2018.

In the same way, field researchers studied other gorilla populations and their movements across Loango National Park by using camera traps, local trackers and collating genetic analysis of scat piles. As a result of their lengthy studies, they found that the different troops across all park populations varied in social behaviours, primarily due to close-set social interactions and their unique environments. 

An important and engaging educational activity featured in our Loango National Park safari program, ANPN now hires over 18 pygmy trackers to locate the Atananga troop; a direction that injects vital revenue into communities that once relied on bushmeat for their survival.

Since the introduction of the Loango Gorilla Project, there has been a significant reduction in illegal poaching, habitat loss and the spreading of disease. Today, more than 1,500 western lowland gorillas now live in the park. 

[Above Top Row]: Tracking collared mandrills with a field scientist in Lopé National Park. [Middle and Bottom Row]: Scientists and trackers discuss the day’s gorilla and chimpanzee sightings at the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology research centre in Loango National Park.

an authentic parcs gabon experience

Educating visitors on the importance of ecological and wildlife conservation is at the forefront of our safari programs.

loango

pongara

ivindo

lopé