Gabon: a zoo to support one

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In order to survive the city of Bakoumba, the Compagnie minière de l’Ogooué (Comilog), which uses manganese, has decided to turn this city into the country’s agricultural grain. Lékédi Zoo was created almost 30 years ago and has some jobs and economic activity in Bakoumba.

Welcome to Lékédi Park. It is a 14,000 hectare zoo created by Comilog and Eramet, says Eric Villaume. The director of this magnificent park shows us around aboard a quad bike. Lékédi is a mixture of forest and lush savannah. The only safe zoo in Gabon, it hosts an exceptional flora and fauna, starting with primates, as Eric Villaume tells us.

We have 11 chimpanzees, all from poaching. They are orphans who have been recovered with the help of the authorities. We teach them about life in the forest again, with the ultimate goal of being able to release them one day in the wild. There you have the star of the park, it is Jojo, our silverback gorilla, who comes from a zoo in Port Gentil and is also in the rehabilitation phase. “

► To read also: Gabon: the city of Bakoumba wants to be reborn, 30 years after the exploitation of manganese

Diversity of rare animals

Lékédi is primarily a colony of 500 mandrill monkeys as well as rare and endangered species such as giant pangolin, golden cats, panthers and more than a hundred bird species. During the hike we encounter a herd of buffalo.

“We have such groups of buffaloes. There are over 300 buffaloes in the park. Depending on the season, these are small groups – right now they are quite small groups; there are about ten there, but one can arrive at gatherings with more than 100 buffaloes in the same place. “

“Bakoumba was even called” Petit Paris “”

The park was created in 1993 by the Compagnie minière de l’Ogooué, a subsidiary of the French group Eramet, to prevent the city of Bakoumba from sinking. Two years earlier, Gabon had decided not to send its manganese through Bakoumba to Pointe Noire in the Congo.

A disastrous decision for Bakoumba, which was an industrial hub for manganese, recalls Jonas Limete, the current mayor of the city. “At the time of the manganese, there were many people, Bakoumba was even called Petit Paris, because the city was glorious. There was a lot of entertainment and activities. Today the park is no match, the population is poor. ”

Aware that the park is not enough, Comilog, as part of its social responsibility, has just undertaken to fund several development projects to revive this dying city.

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