Our Mission

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild lands. We do so through careful science, international conservation, education, and the management of the world’s largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together, these activities change individual attitudes toward nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in sustainable interaction on both a local and a global scale. WCS is committed to this work because we believe it essential to the integrity of life on Earth.

The first pioneering surveys of gorilla populations in the mountains and plateaus of the western Albertine Rift, now DR Congo, were launched in 1959. In 1985, WCS returned to establish a long-term base on the flanks of the rift, in the Ituri Forest, home of the endemic rainforest giraffe, the okapi. In this vast country, where there has been almost no exploration since colonial times, WCS helped to lobby successfully for the creation of a new protected area, the Okapi Reserve. Within the reserve, we established a conservation research and training center for international scientists to bring new methods and expertise to the discovery of the little-known biodiversity of DR Congo’s wilderness areas.

In addition, many Congolese collaborators were trained on WCS research teams, conducting projects such as the large mammal surveys in Kahuzi-Biega National Park (NP) and its hinterland, and have worked with scientists in the Itombwe plateau, Okapi Reserve, Maiko NP, and Salonga NP.

Training is also a critical component of botanical and socio-economic surveys in numerous protected areas. All these forest assessments are critical, as the DR Congo contains more than 50% of Africa’s rain forest, and important populations of forest elephants and endemic species, such as okapi, Congo peacock and bonobo (Pan paniscus). These forests are home to at least two, possibly all four, of the world’s subspecies of gorilla.

WCS goals in this country program include:

– Strengthening the synergy between sites using a cross-cutting model based on inventory and monitoring

– Further developing community work and integrate it closely with conservation of protected areas

– Expanding our conservation contribution to include promotion of sound forest planning outside of protected areas and based on regional zoning.