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Forest elephants are smaller than their relatives in the savannah. In contrast to them, forest dwellers also have a complex herd structure with a well-defined hierarchy. (Photo: Alexandre Brecher - WWF Canon)

Waldelefanten sind kleiner als ihre Verwandten in der Savanne. Im Unterschied zu ihnen haben die Waldbewohner außerdem eine komplexe Herdenstruktur mit einer genau definierten Hierarchie. (Foto: Alexandre Brecher - WWF Canon)

Forest elephants are smaller than their relatives in the savannah. In contrast to them, forest dwellers also have a complex herd structure with a well-defined hierarchy. (Photo: Alexandre Brecher - WWF Canon)

The Congo Basin in the heart of Africa has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000. This includes the Dzanga-Sangha area, which provides a habitat for many species. Among other things, there are many forest elephants living there. Our pictures show the animals in the wild - and up close.

The region around the Congo Basin has repeatedly been the scene of political unrest and violent confrontation in recent years. That got the animal world felt. Fortunately, many animals survived these times unscathed, protected in the dense forest. Even otherwise, the animals rarely look, except hunger drives them out of the thicket. The natural clearing Dzanga Bai is such a place. It lies in the middle of the tropical rainforest and offers especially to the forest elephants an ideal feeding place. As a result, they are easy to observe, but also easily reach the target cross of the poachers.

Conservation despite political unrest

The WWF has been operating ecotourism in the region since 2001, focusing on the observation of gorillas that also live in the area. The revenue from this area is used by the organization for the protection of species. In autumn 2013, the region was declared a restricted military area in the context of political unrest. But this opportunity did not miss the local WWF employees. They negotiated a permit directly with the authorities to protect the area, the organization said. Since July 2014, the park is now accessible to tourists again.

© science.de - Henrike Wiemker
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