Biodiversity Inventories of Freshwater Crabs from Unexplored and Threatened Areas of Yangambi Biosphere Reserve (D.R. Congo): Implications for Conservation

7 Jul 2023 Yangambi Biosphere Reserve, Congo (DRC), Africa Invertebrates

André Lofanga Bolukaoto

Yangambi Biosphere Reserve is one of the main protected areas under threat from human activities in the region. There have been no collections of freshwater crabs made in this part of the Congo basin for at least 100 years and so the freshwater crab fauna is essentially unknown. My recently preliminary collection identified by African freshwater crab specialists Dr. Pierre A. Mvogo Ndongo (Cameroon) and Prof. Neil Cumberlidge (USA) were extremely promising, with the prospect of significant discoveries still to be made. Furthermore, I also noticed that the forested regions and wetland habitats of Yangambi Biosphere Reserve are under threats. Consequently, large species might be threatened with extinction and in need of protection. So, in addition to recording species in my biotic survey, I also recorded the condition of the habitats at the study areas because human impacts were obvious to me.

The proposed project will follow-up the initial fieldwork by systematically sampling and collecting all species in a defined area of the project over one year period, while at the same time assessing the forest and wetland ecosystems for damage, and changes in the physico-chemical properties of the water. These surveys, the first of their kind, will allow an estimation of species diversity and abundance of crabs, and will identify long-term threats to these crabs and their habitat. The results will provide the necessary dataset to make IUCN Red List assessments for each freshwater crab species. Capacity building through the conservation education of local people will be the most important elements of the proposed project, and it will be carried out on an ongoing basis throughout the year. The goal of the educational messages will be to get the people who work in and around Yangambi Biosphere Reserve to change their activities by making the conservation of a healthy ecosystem their goal. We will make large recommendation, for instance, farmers (1) to focus their attention on land that has already been used for cultivation and direct them away from the vegetation and streams that form the habitat of crab species; (2) to avoid releasing pesticides into the environment that contain substances that either harm or kill most species of invertebrates and vertebrates (and may cause the extinction of threatened species).

Project Updates