Loango National Park

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Central Africa > Gabon > Loango National Park



Species Pop. Size Trend Data Quality
Pan t. troglodytes.
Pan t. troglodytes.
Gorilla g. gorilla
Gorilla g. gorilla
Trend unknown
Trend unknown


Loango National Park is a coastal park that was formed in 2002 and covers a total area of 1550 km² of diverse habitat which includes pristine forests, open savannahs, tidal lagoons, coastal and mangrove forest, and large areas of the forest that are permanently or seasonally inundated. The park is unique as it is a meeting of the savannahs and forests of the Congo Basin and the Atlantic Ocean. Mean annual rainfall is 2200mm (Head et al, 2011), and temperatures range from 19.5°C to 32.5°C. There is a long rainy season (October-April) that is often interrupted by a short dry season (December – January). The long dry season stretches from May – September. Wildlife is abundant and diverse within Loango National Park and includes western gorillas, central chimpanzees, elephants, leopards, red river hogs, buffalo, honey badger, sitatunga, 4 duiker species, 6 monkey species, hippopotamus, sea turtles, manatees, humpback whales and 3 crocodile species.

WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) and WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) work together with the ANPN (Agence Nationale des Parcs Nationaux) in the Northern and Southern sectors of the park respectively. Tourism activities have also been initiated in the park, in the North by “Africas Eden” and “Gavilo lodge”, and in the South by ‘Sette-Cama Safaris” and “Camp Missala”. Activities are geared towards wildlife viewing and cultural excursions to nearby villages.

Image:Loango_Forest_river.jpg Image:Liana_LoangoNP.jpg

Ape status

Year Estimated Number of Chimpanzees (per km2) Estimated Number of Gorillas (per km2) Source Dates Organisation
2010 / 2011 1.5 0.82-1.06 Arandjelovic et al 2005-2007 MPI of Evolutionary Anthropology
2000 0.38 0.08 Bethan Morgan Jan-Dec 1998 PhD thesis, Cambs University
1997 0.78 0.21 Furuichi et al Aug-Sep 1995
1984 0.31-0.42 0.22-0.25 Tutin and Fernandez 1980-1983 CIRMF

Table 1: Chimpanzee and Gorilla population estimates in Loango NP

The Loango National Park is fortunate in that it has natural protection to the West from the Ocean, and in the Western sector it has additional protection to the East from the large Iguela lagoon (see map). While some Northern parts of the national park are mainly savannah with small forest blocks, to the South and East the forest is largely continuous and chimpanzees and gorillas are found throughout. Several studies to estimate population size of chimpanzees and gorillas have been carried out in Loango, but it is important to note that only the Tutin and Fernandez (1984) study covered a large area. All other studies focused on specific areas ranging from 20 km2 to 100 km2 (Table 1).

Image:Gorilla_LoangoNP.jpg Image:Onome_LoangoNP.jpg

Threats to Apes

Major Threats Loango NP
Poaching yes
Disease unk
uncontrolled Tourism no
Habitat destruction no
Logging yes
Mining yes*

Table 2: Threats to Chimpanzees and Gorillas in Loango NP

The overall density of humans in and around Loango is relatively low. There are between 15 – 20 villages around the Iguela lagoon in the central part of the park, but these villages are all small and their inhabitants rely primarily on fish for food. Several more small villages are situated in the north eastern sector, but this area is easily accessible by road and boat from Ndougou, a medium sized town outside the park. The main hunting pressure comes from this area, since there are good transport links between here and Port Gentil, the secondary city of Gabon where the selling of bushmeat is commonplace. Just to the south of the park is Sette-Cama village and again there is some hunting pressure in this area. The large Iguela lagoon certainly reduces the human pressure on the apes in terms of poaching, since fish stocks are for now still abundant here. Furthermore, for the majority of local people eating apes is considered taboo, and they do not hunt them. However, the improving transport links to nearby towns and cities where eating apes is not taboo is a cause for concern, since local hunters know they can sell ape meat here even if they do not eat it themselves. Hunting with snares is common in and around Loango National Park, and the apes fall victim to these traps as easily as their intended targets; the red river hogs and duikers.

All of the villages in and around the park have plantations where they grow manioc and bananas, and human-wildlife conflict arises when the apes feed in these plantations, since villagers do not hesitate to shoot and kill any animal found eating their crops.

In 2007 Sinopec (a Chinese petroleum company) prospected for oil within the park. They were subject to strong restrictions by the government and this combined with a lack of good oil reserves in the park resulted in them setting up a camp just outside the park on the Eastern edge, where they are now exploiting the oil reserves they found. They have set up a large camp there and employ many people, which increases the hunting pressure in the area.

Conservation activities

Conservation actions Loango NP
Law Enforcement yes
Long-term Research yes
Permanent Monitoring Program yes
Education yes

Table 3: Conservation activities in Loango NP

Loango Ape Project, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology: The 110 km2 Loango Ape Project research area, located in the central sector of Loango National Park, Gabon, contains many habitat types including mature, secondary and coastal forests, swamps, and savannas. The Loango Ape Project began in 2005 with the aim to establish a long-term research project of habituated gorillas and chimpanzees to better understand their ecology, behavior, culture, demography, and health status. There is no other long-term study site in Africa that is attempting to study both habituated lowland gorillas and chimpanzees living in the same location. Our presence in the study site has led to a significant reduction of illegal activities in the area, and also helped halt a planned petroleum exploration from being carried out in 2006 in the study site. Our project is also contributing to the conservation of western gorillas and chimpanzees through capacity building and conservation activities occurring on the ground in coordination with the Gabonese park authorities.

NGO’s: As mentioned above, both WWF and WCS carry out conservation and research activities in and around the park, including wildlife monitoring (in particular on breeding turtles, crocodiles and humpback whales), and working with the national parks authorities (ANPN) on anti-poaching patrols, capacity building and conservation education in the surrounding area.



The first table (Table 1) refers to all the surveys that have been done in Loango NP.

Image:Loango ape census locations.jpg


  • Furuichi, T., Inagaki, H., & Angoue-Ovono, S. (1997). Population density of chimpanzees and gorillas in the Petit Loango Reserve, Gabon: employing a new method to distinguish between nests of the two species. International Journal of Primatology, 18, 1029-1047
  • Arandjelovic, M., Head, J., Boesch, C., Kuehl, H., Robbins, M. M., Maisels, F., & Vigilant, L. (2010). Effective non-invasive genetic monitoring of multiple wild western gorilla groups. Biological Conservation 143, 1780-1791.
  • Arandjelovic, M., Head, J., Rabanal, L.I., Mettke, E., Boesch, C., Robbins, M.M., Vigilant, L., (2011). Non-invasive genetic estimation of group number and population size in wild central chimpanzees PLos One
  • Morgan, B. (2000). Ecology of Mammalian Frugivores in the Reserve de Faune du Petit Loango, Gabon. Ph.D. thesis, Cambridge University.
  • Head, J., Boesch, C., Makaga, L., and Robbins, M.M. (2011). Sympatric chimpanzees and gorillas in Loango National Park, Gabon: Dietary composition, seasonal changes and inter-site comparisons. International Journal of Primatology
  • Tutin & Fernandez (1984). Nationwide census of Gorilla (Gorilla g. gorilla) and Chimpanzee (Pan t. troglodytes) Populations in Gabon. American Journal of Primatology 6, 313-336
  • Rabanal, L., Kuehl, H., Mundry, R., Robbins, M.M., Boesch, C. (2010). Oil prospecting and its impact on large rainforest mammals in Loango National Park, Gabon. Biological Conservation 143, 1017-1024
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