A large, remote area of undisturbed tropical moist forest in the middle of the Congo basin, situated between the Lomako river in the south and the Yekokora river in the north. The site, which is only accessible by water, comprises mainly mixed evergreen and semi-deciduous lowland forest and is located within a much larger block of primary forest. It is dissected by streams which, in the southern part, flow into the Lomako river and, in the northern part, into the Yékokora. Seasonally inundated swamp-forest and monodominant forest border these streams. The forest consists of a relatively open upper canopy with emergents such as Oxystigma oxyphyllum and Antiaris toxicaria, a continuous middle canopy with a relatively impoverished liana-climber-epiphyte community and a very sparse shrub layer composed of Haumania librechtsiana and Palisota ambigua.Prominent canopy species include Polyalthia suaveolens, Scorodophloeus zenkeri, Dialium corbisieri, Irvingia robur, Celtis mildbraedii and Crudia laurentii. There are a few small settlements and small-scale agricultural activities in the area. Rainfall is fairly constant throughout the year, averaging about 2,000 mm annually and rarely dropping below 60 mm in the driest month. River levels are high between October and December, low from February to August.
See Box and Table 3 for key species. The area supports the highest density of Afropavo congensis recorded to date.
Non-bird biodiversity: The area supports an important population of Pan paniscus (EN), a primate endemic to the country.Other primate species include Lophocebus aterrimus (LR/nt) (also endemic to DR Congo) and Allenopithecus nigroviridis (LR/nt). Other mammals include Loxodonta africana (EN), Tragelaphus spekii (LR/nt) and Hyemoschus aquaticus (DD).
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Protected-area status has been proposed for the site. A 99-year logging lease was held by a German company and the forest to the west of the site was logged in the 1980s. The company, however, agreed not to disturb 300,000 ha surrounding the study site of a Pan paniscus research project and abandoned the concession in 1987, offering their camp at Béongo to WWF-Germany for the establishment of a research station. A proposal to create a reserve of 380,000 ha within the former concession was submitted to ICCN by WWF-International in 1990 and had reached ministerial level by mid-1991, but apparently no further action has been taken since. Although the current situation is unknown, the region remains an ICCN priority for protected-area status. Despite its remoteness, the area is at present threatened by farmers and hunters. In colonial times, the human population originally living in the forest was forced to settle along roads. Until recently, no permanent settlements occurred in the forest. However, the human population in the southern part of the proposed reserve is now estimated at c.0.4 persons/km² and there is growing pressure as a result of people moving away from the more densely populated border areas and establishing small settlements inside the previously undisturbed forest. In the northern part, commercial hunters are entering the forest, staying in temporary camps for several weeks and taking large amounts of bushmeat for the workers of logging companies and for markets downriver as far as Basankusu, Mbandaka and Kinshasa; Psittacus erithacus and Pan paniscus are taken to be sold as pets.
BirdLife International (2019) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Lomako - Yekokora. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 21/03/2019.