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.

  • 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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  • Land for Livestock Christina Van Winkle
    Land for Livestock
    Balancing the land needs of farmers, herders, and wildlife

    Livestock is a vital livelihood for people in West Africa. So is farming.

    As competition over land and natural resources grows, pressure on protected areas and...

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  • Ilima Conservation Primary School
    Ilima Conservation Primary School
    Going beyond the building to provide a holistic education in DRC

    In a remote part of rural DRC, AWF built a different kind of primary school.

    When AWF arrived in Ilima, the local school was a ramshackle building that failed to serve the educational...

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  • Iyondji Craig R Sholley
    Iyondji Community Bonobo Reserve
    A new community reserve for the endangered bonobo

    Bonobos in danger. 

    One of the greatest threats to wildlife in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is loss of habitat due to land conversion, human encroachment,...

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  • Campo Ma’an Anti-Poaching Patrols
    Securing a landscape for future tourism opportunities

    Untapped tourism potential

    With its accessibility to Cameroon’s capital city, as well as its proximity to white-sand beaches, Campo Ma’an National Park...

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