Bird Watching in DR Congo – Congo Safari Tours

Bird Watching in DR Congo: The Democratic Republic of the Congo, (formerly Zaire), has a bird list of 1,189 species as of April 2020. This is most likely the biggest number of species for any African country. Since 1996, a civil conflict and political unrest have harmed the ecosystem while also reducing possibilities for visiting birders. There is a lot for birders to see during bird watching tours in the Democratic Republic of Congo, so one can only hope that possibilities to visit the country on birding Congo safaris will grow in the future.

The nation contains the majority of two Endemic Bird Areas (EBAs), the Eastern DR Congo plains and the Albertine Rift Mountains. These two EBAs form the Central Refugium, which is one of Africa’s most important endemism hotspots. All 43 limited range species of these two EBAs are present, with 23 of them being of worldwide conservation significance. Furthermore, two secondary EBAs are wholly within the nation, Lake Lufira and the Upemba lowlands, while two are partially within the country, the Gabon Cabinda coast and the West DR Congo.

In total, there are currently 20 endemic bird species in the Democratic Republic of Congo including the Congo Peafowl, Itombwe Nightjar, Schouteden’s Swift, Congo Bay-Owl, Grauer’s Cuckooshrike, Yellow-crested Helmetshrike, Bedford’s Paradise-Flycatcher, Kabobo Apalis, Congo Martin, Prigogine’s Greenbul, Red-collared Mountain Babbler, Congo Sunbird and the Lake Lufira Masked-Weaver among others.

The Democratic Republic of Congo also has a high proportion of species restricted to specific biomes: 228 out of 278 Guinea-Congo forest species, 93 out of 228 Afro-tropical Highlands species, 47 out of 67 Zambezian biome species, 29 out of 54 Sudan-Guinea Savanna species, and 9 out of 12 Lake Victoria basin biome species.

19 Important Bird Areas (IBAs), 12 of which are legally protected, have been recognized, encompassing 130,500 km2 or 5.5 percent of the nation and including a diverse range of habitats. However, vast sections of the nation have not been ornithologically investigated, and many significant sites are likely to remain undiscovered and undocumented.

Important Bird Areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Kahuzi Biega National Park

Kahuzi-Biega National Park, which straddles the Albertine Rift and the Congo Basin, is an excellent location for the conservation of the rainforest and the eastern lowland gorillas, Gorilla Beringei Graueri. Dense lowland rainforests and Afro-montane forests cover nearly 600,000 hectares, including bamboo forests and some tiny regions of sub-alpine grasslands and heather on Mount Kahuzi (3,308 m) and Biega (2,790 m).

Bird Watching in DR Congo
Birding in Kahuzi Biega

Luki Forest Reserve

The Luki Woodland Reserve is a lowland forest region along the Atlantic coast to the north of the town of Boma. There is no extensive information available for this site, but it is likely to have 136 of the 228 species found in the Guinea-Congo Forests biome.

Bombo-Lumene Game Reserve

Bombo-Lumene Game Reserve is located south of the major Kinshasa-Kenge road and is the only protected region where White-headed Robin-Chat and Black-chinned Weaver have been reported.

Ngiri Forest

Ngiri is a big distant tract of swamp forest located between the Ubangi and Congo rivers in the west and east, respectively. Waterbirds such as the Long-tailed Cormorant, African Darter, and Purple Heron breed in large numbers. It is the sole known habitat for the Congo Sunbird in the country.

Salonga National Park

Salonga National Park is the world’s biggest rain forest park, including a considerable portion of the Congo River’s middle basin. Although Congo Peacock is known to exist, there is little ornithological evidence.

Bird Watching in DR Congo
Birding in Salonga National Park

Lomaka-Yekokora Forest

Lomaka-Yekokora forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo is a vast tract of untouched tropical wet forest in the heart of the Congo basin. The habitat is exclusively accessible by water and has the largest number of Congo Peacock ever recorded.

Garamba National Park

Garamba National Park is a huge tract of mostly thickly forested savanna near the Sudan border and the country’s only protected area in the Sudan-Guinea Savanna biome.

Lendu Plateau

The Lendu plateau is a wide expanse of high terrain on the west side of Lake Albert in the country’s north-east. Here you can find Prigogine’s Greenbul and Bedford’s Paradise-Flycatcher.

Mount Hoyo Reserve

Mount Hoyo Reserve in DR Congo consists of the 1,450-meter-high peak and the adjacent forest region at the northern extremity of the Rwenzori range. The location is likely to have a fair representation of the Guinea-Congo Forests biome.

Okapi Wildlife Reserve- Congo

Okapi Wildlife Reserve in Congo is a vast expanse of damp lowland forest in the country’s north-east. Yellow-legged Weaver and Golden-naped Weaver are both found here.

Virunga National Park

Virunga National Park is located near the Ugandan border and contains a diverse range of ecosystems. Grauer’s Swamp-Warbler, Yellow-crested Helmet-Shrike, and Shelley’s Crimsonwing are all known to occur.

Maiko National Park

Maiko National Park is a big isolated tract of humid primary tropical forest in the country’s east that is home to a significant population of the Congo Peacock.

Itombwe Mountains

With 563 species reported, the Itombwe Mountains in the Democratic Republic of Congo are located to the west of the northernmost region of Lake Tanganyika and are Africa’s richest single forest area for birds. The recently described Prigogine’s Nightjar is uniquely known from this location, as are the Congo Bay Owl and Schouteden’s Swift.

Bird Watching in DR Congo
Congo Bay Owl

Upemba National Park

Upemba National Park is a large protected area situated in the south-eastern part of Congo. It is here that visitors on a birding safari will find the Black-lored Waxbill.

Forests west of Lake Edward

White-naped Pigeon, Albertine Owlet, and Grauer’s Cuckoo-Shrike are among the important species found in the forests west of Lake Edward in the east of the nation.

What you need for your birding safari in Congo.

  • Pack sunscreen and insect repellent cream
  • Wear a hat or cap
  • Carry your own equipped first-aid kit just in case your tour operator doesn’t have one in the vehicle.
  • Carry enough bottled water and snacks.
  • Bird guide/birding checklist
  • binoculars
  • telescope
  • camera and extra battery

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