Garamba National Park, established in 1938, is a World Heritage site located in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The park’s location between the Guinean and Sudanese biogeography realms makes the region particularly interesting in terms of vegetation and plant life. The Garamba National Park boasts a larger variety of plants and animals than any other country in Africa. One reason for the large variety is the diversity of the climates and the ecosystem. Garamba National Park is home to tropical and deciduous forests, savannahs, swamps, mangrove as well as whole range of rivers, mountains, volcanoes and lakes. The park covers three different biomes: gallery forest with forest clumps and marshland, aquatic and semi-aquatic, and savannahs. The savannahs have an amazing range of dense woodland to nearly treeless grassland. The center of the park is a long grass savannah which covers the majority of the park. (McGinley, 2008) Combretum dominates the savannah woodland, along with Terminalia mollis. There are many dormant species in the woodlands sections such as Hymenocardia acida, Bauhinia thonningii, Acacia and Bridelia. The vegetation in the gallery forests is equally interesting and includes Erythrophleum suaveolens, Chlorophora excels, Irvingia smithii and Klainedoxa. The north eastern part of the park is partially Sudanian woodland and is dominated by Isoberlinia doka with some scattered Uapaca somon. Cyperus papyrus and Mitragyna rubrostipulacea will be found dominating the marshlands. (McGinley, 2008) The long grass savannah is mostly dominated by Loudetia arundinacea along with various Hyparrhenia species. In September these can grow to a height of 2m, but the tallest species, Urelytrum giganteum can grow to a height of 5m. The long grass savannah section also contains scattered trees, typically Kigelia Africana and Vitex donana. The park boasts over 1,000 vascular plant species and of these approximately 5% are endemic, meaning they are not naturally found elsewhere. (McGinley, 2008) Much of the vegetation found in Garamba National Park has some very useful purposes. For example, Erythrophleum guineense, Nauclea latifolia and Terminalia mollis are often used as building materials. Another example of a useful plant is the medical uses of Vitex. The leaves of the Vitex have been used to treat ailments such as diarrhea. Natives have also been known to makes ropes, mats and baskets from the plants Cyperus papyrus and Thatlia welwitschii. (McGinley, 2008) Vegetation is not the only life forms found in the Garamba National Park. The park is home to what is believed to be the last viable natural population of the Northern White Rhinoceros. Due to extensive poaching, rhino number dropped alarmingly from 1,000 in 1960 to about 15 in 1984. By 1996 the number of these rhinos was thought to have grown to around 30. Another interesting population found in the park is the elephants. The elephant population is also at risk from poaching, dwindling from around 20,000 in the late 1970’s to an estimated 11,175 in 1984. (McGinley, 2008) Elephants and rhinos are not the only mammals found in the park. In fact, the park is home to 138 species of mammals including the northern savannah giraffe, which interestingly enough occur nowhere else in Zaire. Additionally, it is also home to species of hippopotamus, buffalo hartebeest, waterbuck, chimpanzees, olive baboons, otters, mongoose, golden cats, leopards, lions, warthogs, bush pigs and 7 species of antelopes including the roan antelope. The buffalo species in the park have also suffered from poaching and their numbers have dropped from around 53,000 in 1976 to only an estimated 25,000 in 1995. Mammals are not the only wildlife in the park; it is also home to over 300 species of birds. Birdlife is abundant all year round but the population grows immensely with winter visitors from November to March. (McGinley, 2008) (Pedersen, 2008) All of the species in the area depend upon each other...
References: United Nations Environment Programme-World Conservation Monitoring Centre (Content Partner); Mark McGinley (Topic Editor). 2008. "Garamba National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo." In: Encyclopedia of Earth. Eds. Cutler J. Cleveland (Washington, D.C.: Environmental Information Coalition, National Council for Science and the Environment). [First published in the Encyclopedia of Earth October 26, 2007; Last revised August 22, 2008; Retrieved January 19, 2009].
Pedersen, T (2008). Garamba National Park. Retrieved February 2, 2009, from Garamba National Park Web site: http://www.tommy777.addr.com/Garamba.htm
Wikipedia, Garamba National Park. Retrieved February 6, 2009, from Wikipedia Web site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garamba
Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature, (2009, January 6). Garamba National Park under attack by LRA. Retrieved February 6, 2009, from Save the Elephants Web site: http://www.savetheelephants.org/news-reader/items/garamba-national-park-under-attack-by-lra-40democratic-republic-.html
UNSESCO, Biodiversity Conservation in Regions of Armed Conflict: . Retrieved February 1, 2009, from UNSESCO Web site: http://whc.unesco.org/en/activities/83/
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