Endangered Species International-Congo is revealing a crucial and fascinating inventory of plants used by endangered gorillas and chimpanzees in the Mayombe forest, the Republic of Congo. This herbarium is an important tool to protect endangered Great Apes found in the rainforest of Congo. Through the herbarium, local communities are able now to identify plant species consumed by gorillas and chimpanzees. This knowledge is being shared to children and local communities around the country. Some trees and plants are consumed by both human beings and Great Apes, therefore sharing the same resources and emphasizing the need to protect biodiversity for all primates including humans.
The Mayombe forest is one of the richest forest on earth and connects with the forests of the Congo Basin. This forest is spread over four Central African countries including the Republic of Gabon, the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Angola. Long-term efforts are being made by Endangered Species International (ESI), local communities, indigenous people, and the governments to conserve this threatened biodiversity essential for combating climate change and global warming. Gorilla and chimpanzee are vegetarians, but while the gorilla feeds more on stems, leaves, and shoots, the chimpanzee is primarily a fruit-eater. What gorillas eat depends on what their habitat provides and on the time of the year. Lowland gorillas eat a lot of fruit, however, in the dry season only a few juicy fruits are available and so the animals have to eat more seeds and leaves instead. The food range of gorillas is very broad: they eat about 250 plant species. Below we show some progress of our work: the plants and trees that gorilla and chimpanzee eat in their natural habitats. All photos below are © Endangered Species International.