Gray countries with texture denote areas of future engagement.


In Central and West Africa, people are overcoming obstacles to rebuild and regain stability

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West/Central Africa


  • Quick Facts:


     103,268,253 hectares (3,987,190 sq. mi.)

  • Key Landmarks

    1. Congo Basin
    2. Lopori River
    3. Maringa River
    4. Maringa/Lopori–Wamba Landscape
    5. Volcanoes National Park 
    6. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
    7. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park 
    8. Virunga National Park
    9. Niger River
    10. Mékrou River
    11. Parc du W–Arly–Pendjari (Parc W)
  • Animals

    West African giraffe, mountain gorilla, bonobo, chimpanzee, elephant, white rhino, forest elephant, bongo, Congo peacock, colobus monkey, lion, hippopotamus, buffalo, cheetah, leopard, 

  • Primary Ecosystems

    Savanna, tropical and subtropical forest, grasslands, shrubland

    Tags: Benin, Burkina Faso, DRC, Niger, Rwanda, Uganda, West/Central Africa, Congo, Regional Parc W, Virunga, Bili-Uele

  • Mountain gorilla in Virunga National Park, Rwanda
  • Bonobo Cyril Ruoso
  • Bonobo Craig R. Sholley
  • Bonobo Craig R. Sholley
  • Bonobo John Watkins ICCE
  • Mountain Gorilla IGCP
  • Mountain Gorilla Craig R Sholley
  • Mountain Gorilla Craig R. Sholley
  • Mountain gorilla Craig R. Sholley
  • Central Africa is usually considered to include:

    Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Rwanda. This region has experienced multiple civil wars and the destruction of communities, the environment, and natural resources that come with them.

  • As the region strives to rebuild, it faces new challenges.

    Creating sustainable livelihoods for its people while putting in place conservation strategies that help preserve the land and its wildlife is critical.

  • The most densely populated area of Africa, West Africa, usually includes:

    Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.

  • Struggling to rebuild, the region continues to suffer a food-shortage crisis.

    War-torn West Africa has experienced severe civil war conflicts since colonial independence. It is predicted West Africans will endure extreme water shortages before the end of this decade.


What happens in Central Africa impacts all of us.

One of the greatest challenges for Central Africa continues to be deforestation. Home to the second-largest tropical forest in the world, the Congo Basin directly contributes to global climate change. Currently, it is unique in the sheer amount of carbon dioxide it absorbs. Deforestation, on the other hand, releases carbon. Because the Congo Basin is so vast, deforestation here could increase climate change globally if left unchecked. Another challenge for Central Africa is rebuilding after years of civil unrest. Addressing the livelihood and infrastructure needs of millions of people goes hand in hand with conservation. 

West Africa may be full of natural beauty, but it is not in abundance when it comes to its giraffes and clean water.

The remaining West African giraffe population—often called white giraffes because of their light-colored spots—has been crippled, largely because their natural habitat has been degraded over the years by human activity.

The people of West Africa already face a number of challenges, including competition over limited land, and food and clean-water shortages. Due to extremely low rainfall, communities in West Africa are unable to grow their crops in abundance. Many people struggle to get access to clean drinking water. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that more than 1,000 people in this region die every day from unsafe water.


Will you show Central and West Africa your support?

With your help, African Wildlife Foundation can continue working on vital programs like helping West African giraffes thrive by creating ecological buffer zones surrounding parks or reducing deforestation in areas critical to endangered species. Learn more about our projects that will help people, land, and wildlife conservation in Central Africa and West Africa.

  • Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge
    Tourism works for locals and gorillas.

    Mountain gorillas are still under threat.

    Even though the mountain gorilla population in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is growing, the species remains endangered...

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  • Mountain Gorilla Rangers Mohammed Hashim
    Mountain Gorilla Rangers
    Gorillas face peril

    Fewer than 900 mountain gorillas exist today.

    Mountain gorillas remain exceedingly endangered and live in only one area—the Virunga Heartland. This landscape spans the...

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  • Réseau Femme et Développement (REFED) or Network of Women for Development in northern DRC
    Empowering women in Central Africa.

    War has destroyed much of DRC’s infrastructure. 

    Women in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have faced many challenges as a result of ongoing conflict and social...

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  • African Wildlife Foundation Canine Detection Unit program
    Canine Detection Unit
    Sniffing out illegal wildlife traffickers

    Wildlife trafficking keeps the poaching industry alive.

    Motivated by a lucrative illegal wildlife trade, poachers target Africa’s iconic species like the elephant and...

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  • Close up of chimp in a tree.
    African Apes Initiative
    Saving Africa’s great apes from the brink of extinction.

    All of Africa’s great ape species are either endangered or critically endangered.

    Africa is home to four of the world’s five great apes: the...

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