Sankuru Nature Reserve

At 30,570 square kilometers (11,800 square miles), the Sankuru Nature Reserve is the world’s largest continuous protected area for great apes. This important site began at the grassroots level with local communities and is the first large-scale reserve in the Congo to be managed by the indigenous people. In addition to protecting great apes, this reserve is also a vital part of our environmental initiatives: REDD+, watershed protection, and species conservation.

Environmental Impact

The protection of the Sankuru Nature Reserve is a major achievement in the fight against global warming. Nearly 20% of annual greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation and other related habitat destruction. Keeping this rich tropical forest intact will make an important contribution to global efforts to reduce emissions while simultaneously conserving biodiversity. The Sankuru Reserve stores up to 660 million tons of carbon, which if released by deforestation would emit up to 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide, comparable to emissions from 38,000,000 cars per year for 10 years.

Sankuru is the recipient of the first REDD+ (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) contract in the DRC, indicating its vital role in pioneering a new paradigm for community-led conservation. In addition to combating climate change, the REDD+ strategy also protects ecosystem diversity and helps to ensure the livelihoods and welfare of the local people.

Andre Tusumba, founder of ACOPRIK, Mbangi Mulavwa and Motema Salo of CRE

Species Conservation

The diversity of wildlife in Sankuru is staggering. In addition to the bonobo, the Sankuru Reserve contains the okapi (Okapia johnstoni), an exotic short necked forest giraffe also native to the DRC, but not previously found outside of their known range far to the northeast. In 2006, survey teams from the Congo’s Centre de Recherche en Écologie et Foresterie(CREF) sponsored by BCI made this exciting discovery. Sankuru also contains elephants, which have been hunted out in many other areas of the Congo forest, plus at least 10 other species of primates, including the rare owl faced monkey and blue monkey.


Sankuru’s most important supporters are generous donors like you. Be a part of the progress in Sankuru Nature Reserve–make a donation today! By working together, we can make sure that Sankuru Nature Reserve maintains abundant forests, diverse wildlife, and thriving communities.

Bonobo, Kokolopori, DRC