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Lost forest yields several new species

some of the plants will represent new species as well, said Ben Kirunda of WCSs botanical team.

The forest has been isolated from much of the Congo Forest block for at least 10,000 years and as a result contains some new interesting species, said WCS researcher Deo Kujirakwinja, one of surveys participants. There is a real need to protect this forest and carry out more research in the area.

The Democratic Republic of Congo has experienced unrestespecially in the biodiversity-rich eastern part of the countrysince the 1960s, when Laurent Kabila, father of the current president, set up a base of operations in the Misotshi-Kabogo forests in his attempt to overthrow the regime of Joseph Mobutu, former president of the country (then called Zaire). Kabila succeeded in becoming president himself in 1996, the same year which plunged the region into a state of civil war. As a result, the region has been off limits to conservationists until recently.

Human impacts to the region are currently low, with gold mining on a minor level being the most substantial threat. Further, survey members who met with the leaders of local villages have found that most are supportive of turning the region into a protected area.

The survey has found that the Misotshi-Kabogo region is biologically important enough to conserve in the form of a protected area, said Dr. James Deutsch, director of WCS Africa Program. Since few people live there, it would be relatively easy to create a park while supporting the livelihoods of people who live in the landscape.


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Contact: John Delaney
jdelaney@wcs.org
718-220-3275
Wildlife Conservation Society
7-Aug-2007


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