Elephant Database
African Elephant Specialist Group

Population Survey

Congo
Phenotype: Forest (based on geographical location)
Data contributed by peter.mwangi@iucn.org, last updated 24/10/2013
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13525 km²
Recorded at stratum level
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The Odzala‐Kokoua National Park, at over 13,000 km2 the largest protected area in the Republic of Congo, has long been known to be of extremely high importance for Central African wildlife, especially forest elephants and western lowland gorillas. The Park is surrounded by logging concessions; the large concession to the East is FSC‐certified. The Gabonese border lies close to the western limit of the site (on the other side of which also lie logging concessions). To the north, a motorable road links the towns of Ouesso and Sembe. In 2005, a line‐transect based survey of the whole Park mapped the distribution and abundance of the large mammals of the area, as well as human impact. In 2008, the southern sector of the Park was resurveyed, again using standard line‐transects. In 2012 a repeat survey was carried out of the whole area: north and south. This required the drawing up of a survey design based on the results of the most recent (2008) survey, followed by fieldwork, data input and analysis, and reporting on the results. A total of 83 transects (a total of 208 kilometres) were walked in 2012. We used all the raw data from 2005, 2008, and 2012 for elephants, and reanalysed it all using the same strata that were used in 2012. We also maintained the same production and decay rates throughout, to enable us to compare each cycle with the next. About 9,606 elephants (95% c.l. 7,468‐12,357) live in the Park, of which about 65% were in the southern sector. The 2005 and 2008 survey results were reanalysed, and using exactly the same parameters, the population of the whole Park in 2005 was estimated to have been about 7,460 (95% c.l. 5,738‐9,705). Statistically, there was no change between years for the Park as a whole 2005‐2012, nor between sectors over time. Also, there was no statistical difference in elephant density between the north and south sectors in either 2005 or 2012. Human sign, and specifically hunting sign, is much commoner and deeper into the park than in previous years. Hunting camps, snares, cartridge cases and other signs of active hunting were found in the periphery of the Park everywhere, especially in the west and north. The centre is still relatively untouched. This pattern is particularly mirrored (inversely) by elephant distribution, as is usually the case with areas subject to elephant poaching. Seventeen elephant carcasses were found, and at least half of them showed obvious signs of the animals having been poached (and likely the rest had been as well). The Sembe‐Souanke road along the northern border of the park is doubtless one of the main axes of these incursions, as is the trail along the west of the Park. In the light of this, we suggest that although the elephant density in particular has remained stable throughout the years, it is likely that elephants have long been fleeing the highly poached and unprotected areas around the park (including in neighbouring Gabon). This would have resulted in the maintenance of elephant density, despite poaching pressure in the Park.
Source:Maisels, F., Strindberg, S., Kiminou, F., Ndzai, C., Ngounga, R., Okondza, A., Malanda, G., Suraud, J.-P., le Flohic, G., Yaba-Ngouma, S., Lepale, A., Lepale, J.-B., Ngouma, S., Dzanga, M., Ekoko-Mboungou, D. & Lamprecht, L. (2013) Wildlife and Human Impact Survey 2012, and monitoring 2005-2008-2012. Odzala-Kokoua National Park, Republic of Congo. Unpublished Report. Fondation Odzala-Kokoua/ WCS.
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