Odzala-Kokoua National Park was proclaimed by the French administration in 1935 making it one of the continent’s oldest national parks. It occupies 13,500 square kilometres within the second largest tropical rainforest of the world and is an integral part of both the Congo Basin and the TRIDOM Trans-frontier Park which overlaps Gabon, Congo and Cameroon.
The park boasts rich wildlife diversity with primary rainforest, forest galleries, swamp forests, pockets of savannah, and rivers and baies (pronounced the same as “buys”). These baies, or forest clearings, are distributed throughout the national park and are generally created by the presence of a water source. Many contain soils that are naturally rich in salts and minerals which attract wildlife, thereby providing excellent opportunities for clear, unobscured observation.
Odzala is home to 114 mammal species including over 20,000 western lowland gorillas, healthy populations of chimpanzees, and around 10,000 forest elephants. Odzala is also the only location in the greater TRIDOM area where spotted hyena can still be found.
The National Park harbours nearly 450 species of birds (including migrants and blow-ins), with more than 300 breeding species making Odzala one of Birdlife International’s Important Bird Areas. Notable species include abundant roosting populations of African grey parrots, plumed guineafowl, Hartlaub’s duck, Cassin’s malimbe, bare-cheeked trogon, blue malkoha, black-casqued wattled hornbill, black bee-eater, blue-throated roller, and many others.