- Gabon's amazing new national park system, home to beach-walking elephants, naïve gorillas, and spectacular waterfalls, is the subject of two feature articles appearing in September's 'National Geographic' and 'National Geographic Adventure' magazine, giving the parks much needed publicity.
The parks, created last year by Gabon's President El Hadj Omar Bongo, were the culmination of years of work by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and other organisations, including most recently, the National Geographic Society. Comprising more than 10,000 square miles, the network consists of 13 separate protected areas safeguarding a diverse array of habitats.
Upon declaring the parks at last year's World Summit on Sustainability in South Africa, President El Hadj Omar Bongo said, "This is a decision of global significance that implies certain sacrifices in the short- and medium-term in order to achieve our goal of preserving these natural wonders for future generations."
Dr Steven Sanderson, president and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society called the park system, "One of the most courageous conservation acts in the last 20 years."
The 'National Geographic' magazine story, written by noted natural history writer David Quammen, with photographs by long time 'Geographic' photographer Nick Nichols, chronicles the efforts by WCS and other groups to make the park system a reality. The 'National Geographic Adventure' story, written by Contributing Editor Tom Clynes, is a travelogue, giving how-to information for potential visitors of the new parks.
In addition to the two recent articles, 'National Geographic' played a significant role through the "Megatransect," which it sponsored along with WCS. That project, in which WCS researcher Mike Fay trekked more than 2,000 miles through the Congo Basin rain forest, was the subject of three 'National Geographic' feature articles and an hour-long television program on 'National Geographic EXPLORER', as well as numerous radio interviews and websites.
- The publicity on Gabon's wildlife riches helped persuade officials to make the park system a reality, WCS noted in a press release, published today.
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