Lobéké National Park is situated in the extreme south-east of the country and is immediately adjacent to two other major reserves in the Central African Republic and Congo (IBAs CF008 and CG001 respectively); its eastern limit is the large, sandy Sangha river on Cameroon’s international border with both CAR and Congo. Most of the forest has never been logged; it is largely semi-evergreen and is dominated by species of Sterculiaceae (Triplochiton, Pterygota), Ceiba pentandra and Terminalia superba. Under a rather open canopy, the understorey is either dense Marantaceae–Zingiberaceae thicket or a closed 6–8 m tall layer of Ebenaceae and Annonaceae trees. There are a few small patches of closed, evergreen Gilbertiodendrondewevrei forest near streams. The only natural savannas are saline swamps and more than a dozen important ones of up to 2–3 km² occur in the park: they are usually bordered by palm thickets (Phoenix or Raphia on wetter ground) and most contain extensive sedge marshes (Rhynchospora corymbosa). Finally, the sandbars on the Sangha provide much habitat for waders and pratincoles in the dry season.
See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. Some 305 species have been recorded. The area is most important for Bradypterus grandis, which appears common in Rhynchospora marsh to which it is entirely confined, with local densities of c.1 pair/ha. This makes Lobéké the most important site to date for the species anywhere in Cameroon or Gabon, although a more extensive survey is needed to confirm whether the site holds over 100 pairs, as seems possible from the available habitat. Other species of interest are the relatively rare Bostrychia olivacea, Otus icterorhynchus, Melignomon zenkeri, Muscicapa tessmanni (all four are also recorded in nearby Boumba–Bek, CM030) and Ploceus dorsomaculatus. Glaucidium capense is locally common and there are three species of forest nightjar, including Caprimulgus ?prigoginei (see Nki site account, CM032). The yellow-bellied form of Stiphrornis erythrothorax (which has been described as a new species S. sanghensis, but see under CM030) is common.
Non-bird biodiversity: The saline swamps attract large numbers of Loxodonta africana (EN), and Tragelaphus euryceros (LR/nt) is also common; whereas these and various duikers suffer from poaching, the large primate populations are largely left in peace and Gorilla gorilla (EN) and Pan troglodytes (EN) are widespread.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The status of Lobéké and its buffer zones has been recently revised: Lobéké National Park was gazetteed in March 2001 (thus falling in line with adjacent Nouabalé–Ndoki in Congo (CG001) and Dzanga–Ndoki in the Central African Republic (CF008) which have been National Parks for some time), while buffer zones will be utilized by hunting safaris, local communities and logging companies. Whatever the legal status of Lobéké, illegal trapping of Psittacus erithacus (coming to take minerals in the saline marshes) remains a serious problem, as thousands of birds are caught each year for trade. Even in 1997, when the export of live birds was suspended for a while, hundreds of birds were still caught and killed to be sold for traditional medicine. The Lobéké saltpans continue to attract very large numbers of parrots, coming presumably from an area several times larger than that of the reserve, but the incessant trapping is bound to have serious consequences on the species’ population dynamics. The livelihood of many people depends solely on this industry; trappers continue to operate almost at will as the local ‘ecoguards’ are too few and have no authority. Solutions have to be sought using means other than just repression.
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Lobéké National Park. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 06/06/2020.