Bili Uele | AWF

Gray countries with texture denote areas of future engagement.


A haven for chimps

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Bili Uele


  • Quick Facts:


    14,017,450 hectares (54,122 sq. mi.)

  • Key Landmarks

    1. Bili Uele Protected Area Complex
    2. Congo River (nearby)


The Bili-Uele Protected Area Complex is located in the remote north of the Democratic Republic of Congo, along the border of the Central African Republic. The region consists of savanna mosaic north of the Uele River and lowland primary forest to the south. Both of these eco-regions support high levels of biodiversity, including forest elephants, lions, and the last remaining undisturbed population of the eastern chimpanzee. An estimated 35,000–65,000 eastern chimpanzees are found in the protected area complex. In spite of this, very little is known about the Bili-Uele area, and few organizations are working there.

Tags: West/Central Africa, DRC


Bananas for bush meat.

The scale of the bushmeat trade in Central Africa has grown considerably, as previously undisturbed forest tracts are opened up to accommodate settlement, mining, logging, and other extractive industries. Bushmeat markets can be found in most towns and villages throughout Africa, especially in Central and West Africa. As forest cover declines, chimpanzees and other forest wildlife are under threat, as bushmeat—due to lack of law enforcement—becomes increasingly available and demand rises.

Businesses and people boom, trees bust.

Logging concessions, artisanal mining, and other industries have transformed previously remote and intact forests, razing large hectares of trees and fragmenting habitat for wildlife. Not only are primary forests—important global carbon sinks—disappearing, so is the wildlife that inhabits those forests, as roads, settlements, and hunters move in.


Our solutions to the challenges in the Bili-Uele Protected Area Complex:

  • Extend the hand of law enforcement to protected areas.

    African Wildlife Foundation is working with its partner, the Congolese wildlife authority, to increase and expand law enforcement to immediately protect core areas of chimpanzee and forest elephant populations. Funds have been seeded to a local researcher from the Max Planck Institute to further determine the biodiversity of the region.

  • Carve out a space for wildlife.

    Working with Congolese authorities, local communities, and other stakeholders, AWF is working to develop an officially recognized and agreed-upon land-use plan, one that builds on the participatory land-use plan as modeled by AWF’s Congo Landscape. As the region is increasingly accessed by mining and other industries, it is important to preemptively establish an official land-use plan for the area to protect forest and wildlife now and in future.


Explore some of our related projects. 

  • Bili-Uele Chimp Survey
    Protecting chimps in the Democratic Republic of Congo

    Humans remain a threat to chimps.

    The 60,000-square-kilometer Bili-Uélé Domaine de Chasse is the largest protected area in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and...

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