Thursday, April 26, 2012

Update from the DRC in Upemba and Kundelungu National Parks


Since the start of this consulting trip to DRC/Congo it was my plan to post more frequently in my blog about our work here with the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS)--see previous two posts #1 and #2.  But given the difficult logistics and poor internet connection I will have to do more later.  See also the brief photo album on my Facebook page from the first ten days around Lubumbashi, Katanga, DRC.


So, to bring my friends and family up to date--over the last ten days, since the meetings in Lubumbashi, Michael McBride and I have had the privilege of visiting "on-the-ground" the two largest parks in SE DRC/Katanga which are the focus of the FZS project--see Upemba National Park Conservation Project.
Some of the last remaining zebra in the DRC--there are somewhere between 10-30
still in the park; back in the early days (1930-50's) there were thousands.

There are indeed very serious problems in these parks (Michael has discussed some of them on his blog) but there are also some really first-class landscapes, biodiversity and scenery and wonderful people struggling to protect them that the world should know about.  And I still believe it is worth helping to restore them to their previous glory, so they can once again regain the superior reputation they had within the protected-area network of national parks of Africa.  Upemba, after all was the second park established in Africa after Virunga National Park, which itself was the first national park globally--even before Yellowstone --which often is seen as the first!  Hopefully the string of bad luck they have suffered in recent years will now abate and we'll see a new day for the wildlife, people and landscapes of these only savanna parks in DRC.

Below are a few photos from both parks that illustrate the conservation values that are truly spectacular and which need protection--I will say much more later.  Enjoy and come back for more!

Kundelungu National Park

Miombo Woodland on the Kundelungu Plateau 
Mazanza Falls on the escarpment looking east toward Tanzania and Zambia
Wading across the falls to hike down to the bottom with Zacharie the ICCN Guide
who has been here for 32 years 
The Upper Mazanza Falls before it tumbles over the escarpment 
Late afternoon on the savanna grassland where we saw a
beautiful pair of Crested Cranes doing their mating dance

Upemba National Park

Kyubo Falls outside the park on the Lufira River
A beautiful lone tree on the savanna--note new green
in foreground from a recent fire
 The tall grass savanna & a trail heading off to the right near Lusinga Station
 The sun rising in the east as seen from our windows at Lusinga Station
 Greetings at the entrance to Lusinga Station
 Late afternoon light on the savanna & some lone trees & shrubs
 Sunset on at Lusinga Station
Beautiful scraggly trees on the savanna near Lusinga Station 
 Our local guide--the schoolmaster at Lusinga Station--takes us for a walk on the savanna
Some of the last Zebras in Upemba NP
Some of the beautiful small-scale biodiversity which is
still abundant here--if you look for it
Bob Ford on the Upemba savanna near Lusinga Station

Enjoy this brief glimpse of two great parks in the DRC--I will come back later with much more when we have better Internet connection.  My best!

Bob Ford, Lusinga Station, Upemba national Park, DRC/Congo, Katanga


  1. Hi there!

    beautiful park, I'd love to see it one day and hope those Zebras bounce back. More overlooked though are the Upemba lechwe antelopes, a unique species only recently described as a separate species. They're critically endangered, do you know what their current status is in their last refuge in the park? I imagine they don't enjoy the same protection as the zebras as they wouldn't inhabit the plateu habitat?

  2. You're absolutely right! There is a biologist right now starting a biodiversity status survey. In next few weeks we'll have a better understanding of the Lechwe status... Check back with us soon!