The site comprises several contiguous protected areas, including the Petit Loango, Monts Doudou, Ouanga Plain and Moukalaba Reserves, and the ex-hunting reserves of Setté-Cama, Iguéla and Ngové-Ndogo, situated beside the coast in south-western Gabon, south-east of Port-Gentil. The whole comprises an exceptionally diverse and rich succession of habitats from the coastline through to grasslands and forest. Coastal habitats include beaches and estuarine waters, incorporating two large lagoons, Lagune Iguéla and Lagune Ndogo, mangroves and littoral thickets, coastal forests and savannas. These give way inland to lowland evergreen forests in which typical tree species include Aucoumea klaineana, Sacoglottis gabonensis, Desbordesia glaucescens, Dacryodes buettneri, Tetraberlinia moreliana, Monopetalanthus pellegrini, Tessmannia africana, Odyendyea gabonensis, Lophira alata, Klainedoxa gabonensis and Librevillea klainei. Further inland, in the Moukalaba area, other tree species appear, such as Dialium pachyphyllum, Toubaouate brevipaniculata, Autranella congolensis and Dacryodes heterotricha. These dry-land forests are interspersed with large stretches of mixed swamp-forests (characterized by Alstonia congensis, Anthocleista vogelii, Mitragyna ciliata, Raphia palms, Lecomtedoxa biraudii, Gilbertiodendron unijugum) and woodland patches in savannas. Grasslands are widespread both along the coast, where they include extensive seasonally waterlogged savannas and herbaceous swamps, and in the Moukalaba Reserve where they occur as tall grass savannas and wooded grasslands in which shrubby species such as Nauclea latifolia, Bridelia ferruginea and Crossopteryx febrifuga are common. The hilly Monts Doudou Reserve, highest point 820 m, represents a northern outlier of the Mayombe of the Congo, in which some submontane flora elements occur.
See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. A total of 470 species have been recorded, of which 362 are breeding residents or, in a few cases, breeding visitors. Six species of global conservation concern occur, of which two, Picathartes oreas and Ploceus subpersonatus, are resident. The latter breeds in small colonies in the palm Phoenix reclinata in coastal savannas. The former was recently found breeding in Monts Doudou at 600 m. The other four are non-breeding visitors—Phoenicopterus minor, Gallinago media, Glareola nordmanni and Sterna balaenarum—of which only the last-mentioned occurs regularly. No other protected area in Gabon offers such a variety of habitats. Little known species or birds with limited distribution elsewhere in the country include Bostrychia olivacea, Otus icterorhynchus, Telacanthura melanopygia, Merops breweri, Lybius minor, Pseudochelidon eurystomina, Phyllastrephus fulviventris, Cichladusa ruficauda and Batis minulla. Breeding colonies of Pseudochelidon eurystomina and Merops malimbicus occur in the coastal savannas.
Non-bird biodiversity: The site is rich in large forest mammals such as Loxodonta africana (EN), Tragelaphus spekei (LR/nt), Gorilla gorilla (EN) and Pan troglodytes (EN), and Trichechus senegalensis (VU) occurs in the lagoons and estuaries. The Moukalaba Reserve holds the last important population in Gabon of the ungulate Kobus ellipsiprymmus (LR/cd). Three species of crocodile, including Crocodylus cataphractus (DD)and Osteolaemus tetraspis (VU), live in the complex.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The reserves are managed by the Direction de la Faune et de la Chasse which implements conservation activities through three bases established at Setté-Cama, Iguéla and Moukalaba. WWF has been working with government to improve conservation in the reserves since 1989 and in 1997 began an integrated conservation and development project. Main threats include logging, oil exploration and extraction (in-shore and offshore) and commercial hunting for the local bush-meat trade market.
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Gamba Protected Areas Complex. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 05/06/2020.