The approximately 5000 km² Garamba National Park is located in the north of the country and is the habitat of four of the largest mammal species: elephant, giraffe, hippopotamus and white rhinoceros. Forests, wetlands, grass savannah and gallery forests alternate. The park has been on the red list since 1994.
Garamba National Park: facts
|Official title:||Garamba National Park|
|Natural monument:||4920 km², altitude 710 m to 1061 m, national park since 1938, after the murder of three game rangers and the shooting of northern white rhinos since 1996 on the »Red List« of endangered world heritage|
|Country:||Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uele District|
|Location:||Northeast Congo, on the border with South Sudan|
|Meaning:||important sanctuary for giraffes, elephants, hippos and the rare northern white rhinos|
|Flora and fauna:||Forest, wet and grass savannah as well as gallery forest; up to 2 m high grasses of the Hyparrhenia species, Combretum dry woody plants, African tropical woods such as Terminalia mollis; only about 30 northern white rhinos, a population of about 11,000 elephants, a “hybrid” of forest and savanna elephants; other mammals such as around 25,000 Cape buffalo, Congo giraffes, leopards, lions, warthogs, hippos, waterbuck, colobus monkeys, Brazza monkeys, green baboons, chimpanzees and four other species of monkey, seven species of antelope and five species of mongoose|
A place for the last of the northern white rhinos
When the small plane that you flew in disappears on the horizon again, you inevitably get the feeling that you are far removed from civilization in Garamba. Here, in the center of the continent, Africa is still unspoilt and wild. The landscape northeast of the large Congo Forest is a sparse, open tree savannah with a few acacias or deciduous trees, in the southern parts there is a grassland crossed by many rivers, with extensive papyrus swamps in the flat valleys. Some types of grass grow well over two meters high, obstructing the view on both sides of the hard-to-keep driveways.
Garamba’s precious importance to our world lies in the fact that the last surviving population of the northern white rhinoceros can be found here. There are currently around 30 animals living here, as there have been a few births in recent years. The conditions for the survival of these primeval-looking animals are favorable due to the external natural circumstances. The sight of the massive animals, which behave so gently towards humans and other animal species, makes you thoughtful. Rhinos are an impressive example of the special results that a long tribal history leads to; their external appearance is a fascinating testimony to the diversity inherent in nature. Garamba offers many uniqueness of nature. The southern parts of the national park have the largest population density of elephants in all of Africa. By the way, elephants have been trained here since the beginning of this century as riding animals and to carry heavy loads in rough terrain, as is common in India. A discussion has broken out among scientists as to whether the local elephant population is a mixture of steppe and forest elephants; Transitions between the two subspecies are also described elsewhere. There are also unique transitional forms in other animal species in Garamba. The numerous buffalos are shorter-horned and reddish than the Cape buffalo in East, Central and South Africa, which is why they have been separated from them as a separate subspecies. The local giraffes also represent a subspecies as the so-called Congo giraffes. According to listofusnewspapers, Garamba lies in a zoological border zone between the Congo and Sudan fauna and flora; the granite and gneiss mountains form the watershed between the Congo River and the Nile – ideal conditions for such a diversity of nature that urgently needs to be preserved could develop.
At the moment, the future of Garamba is still looking bleak. Years of civil war in the south of Sudan have cast dark shadows over the national park. A military base was set up in the park for a long time. Around 80,000 or more refugees had fled here from Sudan; these people and also the local population kill animals for their own food. When it comes to human survival, the word “poaching” is not really appropriate – for animal populations, however, it does not matter why they are being decimated and who is doing it. The rangers fight for their animals, for their park. Some had to pay with their lives, many were wounded. They are idealists who have often been without wages for months; almost all of them live from a little agriculture.
And all because of the couple of rhinos? What if the northern white rhinoceros disappeared from our planet? Who would be harmed by this? How much is a species or subspecies of our modern world worth? But this endangered species is representative of thousands upon thousands of species of various fellow creatures, whose extermination humans unsuspectingly watch – or look the other way. For millions of years this species has evolved here in Africa and adapted to many adversities. Now Homo sapiens, the thinking person, comes along and cares little about these developments. Or is it? Garamba with its last northern white rhinos has been a World Heritage Site since 1980. Isn’t that a ray of hope?