The country remains a haven for wildlife due to a history of relative isolation and low human population density, especially on the coast. Today, however, with threats increasing from industrial development and global trade, the country needs to find new conservation strategies that will ensure Gabon remains a haven for spectacular wildlife. Gabon’s national parks, established in 2002, are now the cornerstones of such conservation efforts, though much work remains to ensure they continue as a refuge for wildlife.
As Gabon opens-up to the outside world and diversifies its economy, new roads and rail networks are bringing an influx of workers into previously remote regions, causing an alarming rise in poaching, logging, and commercial trade in wildlife. Similarly, as new sources of minerals, oil and gas are discovered, the potential for conflict between exploiting these resources for economic gain and the need to protect sites of incredible conservation importance is intensifying.
WCS’s history in Gabon began in 1985 with the first surveys of forest elephants, followed by a nationwide conservation priority assessment. These ground-breaking studies bore remarkable results when WCS helped the government established its national park system in 2002, encompassing 13 parks and more than 10 percent of the country's total land area.
The new national park system was partly an outcome of WCS explorer Dr. Mike Fay's famed "megatransect" through the remote forests of Gabon and neighboring Republic of Congo. Fay traveled with local assistants for 2,000 miles and 456 days, prompted by concerns that future logging would deprive the scientific community of what might otherwise be learned there. Fay's observations helped President Bongo recognize his country's significant wildlife heritage. Subsequent WCS-led studies have revealed that Gabon is home to the world’s largest nesting population of leatherback turtles and the largest remaining population of forest elephants.
Today, WCS remains the largest and most influential international conservation NGO working in Gabon. WCS has increased its commitment to two major landscapes: Gabon’s coast & ocean, and the forested interior. WCS is helping build Gabon’s capacity to manage its wildlife and ocean resources and monitoring the outcomes of conservation activities on wildlife.
The person you email to will see the details you enter in the Form field and will be given you IP address for auditing purposes