Wildlife rarely respect international borders, particularly when those boundaries cut right through their forest homes. So a new World Heritage Site that spans a swath of three nations in Central Africa will give gorillas, elephants, and chimps a veritable pass as they roam along the Sangha River, between the Republic of Congo, Cameroon, and the Central African Republic. The diverse ecosystems of this region will be preserved within the Sangha Tri-National Protected Area (TNS), now a World Heritage Site.

The creation of TNS marks the first time the World Heritage Committee has given its namesake status to a site spanning three nations. The park includes a range of habitats, from tropical forests to wetlands to bais—natural forest clearings that are important mingling grounds for wildlife. With mineralized soils, distinctive herbs, and one of the lowest human footprints in equatorial Africa, TNS promises ongoing refuge for large numbers of animals. No place else in the world attracts groups containing more than 100 forest elephants. In TNS, these mammoth herbivores often congregate alongside other large mammals: bongo, sitatunga, forest buffalo, and giant forest hogs.

WCS has been providing long-term technical and financial support to TNS in partnership with WWF and the TNS Foundation. WCS Director for Africa Programs, James Deutsch, applauds the World Heritage Committee for acknowledging the value of this Central African protected area. Deutsch says, “The TNS is the wild heart of the Congo Basin Rainforest. It contains some of the last great populations of African forest elephants, gorillas, chimpanzees, and other endangered species.” 

Areas devoted to wildlife conservation are often slivers of fragmented terrains. Unlike many protected areas, TNS comprises an intact, ecologically functional landscape, making its protection crucial.

To learn more, read the press release