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In the Community

FISH & BIOTOPE: LOANGO NATIONAL PARK – Part One

December 13, 2018 | By Eric Nadon

PART ONE

The Loango National Park is situated along the Atlantic coast of western Gabon in Central Africa, and covers an area of about 1,550 km². Rich with forests, lagoons and coastal areas, it is a true Garden of Eden.

The coastal waters are extremely rich in fish, and these fish are prey to the local ospreys and African sea eagles. The diversity of species is vast and at any time you may spot crocodiles, hippos, sitatungas, dwarf crocodiles, red river hogs, forest elephants, African forest buffalos, leopards, chimpanzees, and western lowland gorillas, among a myriad of other species.

Gabon experiences veritable amounts of rainfall per year. The most is along the coast, which can be upwards of 3,000 mm, while upcountry, the average rainfall is ‘only’ 1,600-1,800 mm, still about three times the amount of rainfall in Germany!

The temperature in this area ranges between 26°C to 27°C at the coast, and varies by 3°C to 4°C inland. At night, temperatures rarely fall below 20°C, making sleeping comfortably a challenge. For Central Europeans, it is not easy to acclimate to the humidity and hot tropical climate of Gabon.

Water temperature is about 25°C to 26°C.

AKAKA CAMP

The boat tour from Loango to Akaka took about 2 hours. During this time we spotted fish eagles, palm-nut vultures, kingfishers, crocodiles, monkeys and an elephant. The Akaka camp is located in the jungle at the water’s edge of the lagoon. A solar panel powers the radio – the only means of communication – in case of an emergency, and to report any poaching activity, which was the main reason the camp was initially set up, and why it is manned at all times.

The camp itself flanked by old tents on simple wooden platforms appears to be pretty run down. Each tent has a bucket shower and a chemical toilet. The main platform on which we will eat and sit overlooks the lagoon and has a huge hole in the thatched roof. A lot is in disrepair, but we are just happy to be here.

In the two days that followed, I mainly explored the surrounding aquatic life with a net and fishing rod.

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