Trends and threats to biological diversity in the Central African Republic

The main threats to biodiversity in the CAR are linked to human activities. They are the cause of the continual reduction of biological resources. These threats are due to widespread poverty throughout the Central African territory and to politico-military conflicts that weaken existing management systems.

Release date 06/24/2011
Contributor Christophe NDARATA MASSANGUET
Geographical coverage Central African Republic
Keywords Biodiversity, environment, wildlife, forests, protected areas, poaching, species


The main threats to biodiversity in the CAR are linked to human activities. They are the cause of the continual reduction of biological resources. These threats are due to widespread poverty throughout the Central African territory and to politico-military conflicts that weaken existing management systems.

 Main threats and weaknesses on biological diversity

The main threats to biodiversity in the CAR are linked to deforestation and forest degradation, poaching, uncontrolled exploitation of biological resources, the absence of a national inventory of biological resources and a taxonomy reference center , to

the uncontrolled introduction of invasive alien species, the loss of agro-biodiversity, the absence of an early warning system for climate change and armed conflicts.

  1.  Deforestation and ecosystem degradation

In general, the main pressures which weigh directly on the Central African forest according to the PNAE (1996) are:

- The uncontrolled exploitation of forest resources due mainly to the absence of rigorous planning, the inefficiency of regulatory measures, the inadequacy of financial and economic measures, the inconsistency of institutional measures, the the lack of appropriate techniques and technologies and the absence of a reliable information system on the evolution of resources which leads to the continuous degradation of forest ecosystems;

- The significant loss of biodiversity linked to the weakness of the national policy in terms of resource management, poaching and the loss of habitats;

- Soil degradation mainly due to the absence of a land use plan and limited financial and economic incentives.

Concerning the degradation of ecosystems, the main causes according to the PNAE (1996) are:

the non-existence of biodiversity management planning, the ineffectiveness of regulatory management measures and economic measures for the enhancement of biodiversity, the absence of technical measures for effective management and the lack of awareness in terms of sustainable use of biodiversity.

The major challenge would be to correct the causes of these problems in order to reverse the trends, i.e. to maintain fragile, rich and diversified ecosystems in order to reduce the threats to all of biodiversity. and soil resources. It is estimated that the CAR has made progress recently by implementing the recommendations of the Rio Conference, by integrating community forestry into law 08.022 of October 17, 2008 on the Forest Code in the Central African Republic.

    2. Wildlife Poaching

Wildlife is an important source of protein and income for the population and the Central African State. Average consumption is 11.6 kg/person/year (Chardonnet et al. 1995).

Unfortunately, poaching does not spare any of the species mentioned in the Annex to Ordinance 84.045 of July 27, 1984 and constitutes one of the main threats to wildlife in the CAR.Image removed.

The species concerned are duikers, bush pigs, buffaloes, monkeys, rodents, reptiles, birds, etc.

The weakening of existing biodiversity management systems by politico-military crises is at the origin of the use of assault weapons, explosives and steel cables in the exercise of hunting.

Some protected areas have been overrun by fighters, making game their main source of food. It should be noted the existence of cross-border or external poaching carried out by foreigners in search of ivory tusks or other important parts of the wild fauna.

Cross-border and national poaching carried out by wealthy individuals is the most destructive.

    3. Unplanned exploitation of fishery resources

As part of the management of fisheries resources, there is currently no reliable database to inform decision makers about these resources. Data from fish inventories in CAR waters are disparate or even inaccessible.

Therefore, the direct causes of the unplanned exploitation of fishery resources are:

- fishing legislation that is not adapted and unknown to the stakeholders;

- a lack of assessment of fish stocks;

- lack of a fisheries resource management plan;

- a lack of competent human resources for planning.

The root causes of the anarchic exploitation of fisheries resources are as follows:

- the use of fishing equipment not authorized by law the use of ichthyotoxic products of chemical or vegetable origin;

- Ignorance of spawning areas;.

    4. Management of biological resources

Since the creation of most protected areas, efforts have been made in the context of knowledge of biological wealth. However, much remains to be done on the human, financial and material levels.

Very often these protected areas are transformed into pastoral routes, thus creating a threat to wildlife. This is the case of the Reserves of Zemongo, Nana Barya, Manovo Gounda Saint Floris, etc. The incursion of foreign transhumant herders and their cattle herds outside the transhumance corridors is a factor in the degradation of these natural habitats.

Law No. 08.022 of October 17, 2008 on the Forest Code in the CAR establishes the sharing of benefits arising from the exploitation of biological resources and expresses the need to involve local communities in the management of biological resources. This law provides for participatory management and community forestry to improve the sustainable use of biodiversity resources in the CAR.

In summary, the main direct causes of the loss of biodiversity in protected areas are often linked to the lack of financial resources, the mismatch between the function of manager of Protected Areas and the profile of available skills, the absence of development and management plan, the understaffing of agents in charge of the management of protected areas, the absence of a biodiversity monitoring-evaluation system and the non-existence of reference centers in terms of taxonomy in the CAR.

       5 Insufficient systematic (taxonomic) inventories

Data on systematic inventories of biodiversity in the CAR are very insufficient. For the country as a whole, there are few systematists in the field of Zoology or Botany and very few means are assigned to it. The few existing human resources often lack the means to enable them to carry out biological prospecting.

       6 Introduction of invasive alien species

The presence of invasive alien species (of plant and animal origin) is the second source of threat to the habitats and livelihoods of rural communities. Among the species, by type of habitat, we find the following invasive alien species: Chromolaena odorata (Pastoral rangeland), Lantana camara , Water hyacinth ( Eichhornia crassipes ), Water lettuce, Salvania molesta . From an institutional point of view, there is no framework for monitoring invasive plants.

Rangelands are threatened by encroachment by Laos grass ( Chromolaena odorata ) and land degradation.

       7. Agro biodiversity management problem

 The main threats are genetic.

Indeed, because of the many anthropogenic pressures to which they are subject, cultures as a whole undergo genetic erosion at

due to weak in situ and ex situ conservation capacities. For these crops, the main threats are:

• Degradation of agricultural ecosystems;

• The absence of an inventory of improved varieties and the lack of an introduction register;

• Particularly reduced in situ and ex situ conservation capacities;

• Lack of commercial promotion and in situ conservation of so-called “secondary” species;

• The fragility of ecosystems due to cropping systems;

• The absence of structures for the management and conservation of plant genetic resources;

• Post-harvest attacks by insects (locusts, bark beetles, etc.);

• Risks related to climatic and seasonal variability.

Some crops such as cassava, rice, corn, remain threatened. In fact, in recent years, the production of cassava, a staple food in the Central African Republic, has been threatened by viral diseases (cassava mosaic) and the mealybug. Other sorghum cultivars are becoming scarce or disappearing.

With regard to cattle, the herd is estimated at 3,500,000 heads in 2003 against. 2,017,500 head in 1990. However, it is noted that cattle are increasingly colonizing hunting areas due to a lack of fodder resources, which exposes them more to wildlife diseases (eg wild cattle).

Domestic animal species are subject to genetic erosion, the effects of which vary from one species to another, in particular the risk of reintroduction of contagious diseases that exist endemic in certain neighboring countries (plague, contagious bovine pleuropneumonia ), health problems accentuated by uncontrolled transhumance and the lack of veterinary interventions for certain contagious diseases such as bovine tuberculosis, or hemoparasitosis, vector-borne diseases, etc.

        8. Politico-military conflicts

Since 1996, following the repeated politico-military conflicts that shook the country on the one hand, and because of generalized poverty on the other, the CAR has experienced a significant reduction in its biological potential. This is due in particular to the proliferation of weapons of war in hunting areas, the weakening of management and control systems, the looting of wildlife resources by major poaching.

     9. Transhumance and anarchic packing in Zones of Hunting Interest (ZIC)

Increasingly, the seasonal movements of herders to the CAR, especially Chadians, and Sudanese are an alarming problem for the protected areas covered almost all of the ZIC. For several years, the Bamingui-Bangoran and Manovo-Gounda-Saint

Floris are seasonally invaded by these zebu oxen, accompanied by a large number of sheep and goats. The herd of zebu would usually be between 50,000 and 100,000 but in 2005, in all, 227,000 heads were counted mainly in these 2 parks. They cross the border and enter the country by avoiding health checkpoints, and always stay away from official transhumance corridors, which constitutes a real health threat sometimes considered more serious than poaching.

The André Félix National Park and the Yata Ngaya Wildlife Reserve which surrounds it have been gradually emptied of their fauna by major poaching and Sudanese transhumance. Almost all of the hunting sectors in the Vakaga Prefecture have been rendered unviable resulting in

by way of fact a gradual reduction in the revenue allocated to the communes of this prefecture.

          10. Mining in protected areas

Mining significantly alters the very sensitive stream habitat. This destruction is observed today in the Sangba area, on the Sangba, Bamingui and Ngoumbiri rivers, which are nevertheless vital for the animals and the local populations, as well as for the wildlife economic activities officially undertaken in the area, providing income to the populations and communities.

However, the most serious disturbances relate to the tranquility of wildlife areas where the movements of actors and the creation of new villages within protected areas make their management very difficult and costly, if not impossible. Miners' camps are becoming new centers of intense poaching activity. Indeed, the human presence in protected areas scares away wildlife and influences the quality of tourist services that generate income for communities.