When you think of landscapes where cats roam in Africa, your mind likely wanders to East or southern Africa. Lions stalk the landscape. Leopards drag their meals up trees and cheetahs race past, hunting gazelles. Thousands of wildebeest and zebra dot the landscape. Hippos and hungry crocodiles lurk in the rivers.
However, Panthera’s work on the continent goes far beyond the plains and brush of these regions. Journey to the center of the continent, to the beating heart of Africa’s tropical rainforest, and you will find another “catscape” teeming with opportunity for cats big and small. Travel west of the Republic of the Congo, and you will find yourself in a country just before you reach the Atlantic: Gabon.
In Gabon, Panthera works in a myriad of forms, all aimed at protecting wild cats. In Plateaux Batéké National Park (PBNP), Panthera has collaborated with ANPN, Gabon’s National Park Agency, to monitor and protect wildlife in the park. In 2015, a single male lion was spotted on our camera traps, and Panthera is now working hard to re-establish a breeding lion population in the park. Furthermore, we are conducting countrywide leopard surveys, aimed to help the Gabonese government and ANPN identify and gazette wildlife movement corridors in order to secure and connect populations of wild cats, western lowland gorillas, Central chimpanzees and forest elephants.
Situated in the Western Congo Basin, this region is one of the most biodiverse in the world. Imagine yourself walking in the forest. What animals would you expect to peer out at you? Thankfully, our camera traps can give a sneak peek.
It wouldn’t be Gabon without leopards! These extremely adaptable cats can live in a variety of environments, from tropical rainforests to savannas.
This one is two for the price of one: there’s a bat and an African forest elephant. What a sight to see — a bat flying towards a forest elephant, the largest species to inhabit these forests.
Another forest subspecies peers into the lens. This is an African forest buffalo.
It wouldn’t be Central Africa without some great apes. In Gabon, big cats like lions and leopards live alongside western lowland gorillas and chimpanzees, pictured here.
Big cats aren't the only felines which inhabit Gabon's forests! This species, the African golden cat, is endemic to Africa's dense tropical forests and one of the least studied wild cats.
Of course, our trek through Gabon’s forests would not be complete without a picture of Gabon’s last lion (to our knowledge).
Clearly, lions are threatened in Gabon, as well as many other creatures. It is imperative we do all we can to protect this majestic yet imperiled ecosystem. Together, we can protect Central Africa’s forests. Let’s take a journey as one to save lions, leopards, elephants and chimpanzees. Please consider donating to support our work across the globe.