The wet forests of the Eastern Congolian Swamp Forest ecoregion are a hidden treasure. These forests are not as well studied as those in the surrounding ecoregions that are subject to less flooding, and there are many species here that are yet to be discovered by scientists. The ecoregion is frequently flooded by the Congo River, which makes the high forest canopy an ideal refuge for a great number of species, such as Muton's soft-furred mouse, Allenâs swamp monkey, the Congo sunbird, and the tiny wax frog.
The swamp forests that make up this ecoregion lie on flat land along the eastern bank of the Congo River. This mighty river frequently pours over its banks, flooding the forests. During flooding, animals are forced to either take to the treetops or move to higher ground, so many animals tend to be arboreal, with obvious exceptions such as elephants.
In the treetops, monkeys called golden-bellied mangabeys eat fruit, nuts, insects, shoots, and leaves. In open areas, one may hear the thumping call of tiny wax frogs. Congo sunbirds feed on large red flowers of trees. Bonobos--a species of ape--roam the forest floor in search of fruits, shoots, leaves, seeds, flowers, bark, rodents, snakes, and insects. Elephants also live in these forests and feed on vegetation in numerous openings and clearings.
Cause for Concern
Although logging has been carried out in some areas of this ecoregion, the habitat is fairly intact and the forest appears to be regenerating well where it had previously been cut over. However, poaching is decimating forest elephant and bonobo populations. Little is known about biodiversity in this region, and we may be losing species that have yet to be discovered.
For more information on this ecoregion, go to the World Wildlife Fund Scientific Report.All text by World Wildlife Fund © 2001