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Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network

Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park Becomes Our First Certified Gorilla Friendly™  Park

Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park Becomes Our First Certified Gorilla Friendly™ Park

Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network (WFEN) is proud to announce that Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park has become our first Certified Gorilla Friendly™ Park. Gorilla Friendly™ certification guarantees the application of best practices in all gorilla-related operations, from tourism to research, to safeguard the well-being of the primates and ensure active support for and from the park’s neighboring communities.

The Gorilla Friendly™ certification is a program of WFEN and the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP). This ecolabel is a first-of-its-kind initiative globally, offering the possibility of highlighting operations that provide direct benefits to gorillas – an umbrella species whose protection profits many other plants and animals. Threatened by habitat loss and poaching, gorillas represent a culturally, ecologically, and economically important resource, and their protection is an opportunity to actively bring together parks and neighboring communities.

The certification is obtained through a thorough process of verification of all protocols and their correct application in the field and requires an annual audit. It proves that the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park’s management follows the IUCN Best Practice Guidelines for Great Ape Tourism and incorporates Global Sustainable Tourism Council criteria for sustainable tourism, as Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park develops its tourism offering, generously funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Park operations are carried out with the highest ethical standards in the interests of animal welfare and have benefited the communities without whose knowledge it would be impossible to work in the forest, creating job opportunities and building local capacities, turning poachers into trackers, and trackers into researchers, and enforcing  strict protocols to guarantee animal health.

The Wildlife Conservation Society has been involved in the management of the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park since its creation in 1993, and through a fruitful public-private partnership between WCS and the Congolese Ministry of Forest Economy since 2014. Earlier this year, the Park expanded in size to include the Djéké Triangle, a gorilla-rich, unlogged forest in its southern part and home to the three habituated gorilla groups and research camp. The Triangle includes a community sustainable use zone, allowing for the continued collection of non-timber forest products and traditional fishing.

The Gorilla Friendly Certification rewards the decades of work that have gone into habituating four (and soon to be five) groups of gorillas to human presence, leading to major advances in our understanding of their ecology and social structures, and enabling the Park to offer a unique tourist experience.

About WCS Congo

For more than 30 years, WCS has played a major role in the conservation of wildlife and wild places in the Republic of Congo, where it has contributed to the creation, expansion and management of three of the five national parks. WCS works closely with the government, national stakeholders and local communities to protect Congo’s rich ecosystems.

About Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park

Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park is arguably the best remaining example of an intact ecosystem in the Congo Basin. It covers more than 4,000 km2 of lowland rainforest and is home to critical populations of endangered mammals, such as forest elephants, lowland gorillas and chimpanzees. Nouabalé-Ndoki was nominated as a World Heritage Site in 2012.

About WFEN

Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network conserves endangered and threatened wildlife species and their habitats through biodiversity certification programs that also contribute to the economic vitality of rural communities. WFEN uses the power of the marketplace to create on-the-ground change by providing incentives for the protection of biodiversity and enabling the conservation of intact landscapes critical to the provision of ecosystem services. Its certification programs are supporting grassroots farmers, ranchers, herders, artisans, indigenous peoples, and conservation heroes from around the world, and ensure that people and nature coexist and thrive.