The Congo Basin is one of the most important wildernesses left on the planet. Second only in size to the Amazon rainforest, this habitat spans a huge area of over 340 million hectares (830 million acres) through the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. The lifeblood of the ecosystem is the Congo River, which flows through the basin to meet the Indian Ocean. Throughout this habitat, dense rainforest is interspersed with green savannas, rivers and marshy swamps, providing a huge range of niches for an incredible number of species. This African rainforest is thought to be home to over 400 species of mammal and 1,000 species of bird.
As well as having rich biodiversity, the area is also abundant in natural resources, such as timber, petroleum and even diamonds. These are in high demand, and extraction techniques pose a threat to wildlife – habitat loss due to mining and logging, as well as building of roads and dams are the biggest threats to wildlife.
The illegal bushmeat trade is also a real threat to many rainforest animals. Monkeys and antelope are the animals most at risk, and it’s estimated that in the Democratic Republic of Congo alone, over a million tonnes of bushmeat are eaten each year.