The greater part of two Endemic Bird Areas (EBAs) are located within the country, the Eastern DR Congo lowlands and the Albertine Rift mountains. These two EBAs constitute the Central Refugium which is one of Africa’s major centres of endemism. All 43 restricted range species of these two EBAs occur of which 23 are of global conservation concern. In addition, two secondary EBAs lie entirely within the country, Lake Lufira and Upemba plains and two are partially within the country, Gabon Cabinda coast and West DR Congo.
The country also holds a high proportion of species restricted to a number of biomes: 228 out of 278 Guinea-Congo forest species; 93 out of 228 Afrotropical Highlands species; 47 out of 67 species of the Zambezian biome; 29 of the 54 Sudan-Guinea Savanna species and 9 of 12 species of the Lake Victoria basin biome.
19 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) of which 12 are protected legally have been identified covering 130,500 km2 or 5.5% of the country and these contain a broad spectrum of habitats. Vast areas of the country however have not been surveyed ornithologically and many important sites probably remain to be discovered and documented.
Luki Forest Reserve is an area of lowland forest near the Atlantic coast lying to the north of the town of Boma. No detailed information is available for this site but it might be expected to contain 136 of the 228 species of the Guinea-Congo Forests biome.
Bombo-Lumene Game Reserve lies south of the main Kinshasa to Kenge road and is the only protected area where White-headed Robin-Chat Cossypha heinrichi occurs and the only site where Black-chinned Weaver Ploceus nigrimentus has been recorded.
Ngiri is a large remote area of swamp forest situated between the Ubangi river in the west and the Congo river in the east. Large numbers of waterbirds breed including Long-tailed Cormorant Phalacrocorax africanus, African Darter Anhinga rufa and Purple Heron Ardea purpurea. It is the only known site in the country for Congo Sunbird Cinnyris congensis.
Salonga National Park is the largest rainforest park in the world and encompasses a significant section of the central basin of the Congo river. There is little ornithological data although Congo Peacock Afropavo congensis is known to occur.
Lomaka-Yekokora is a large area of undisturbed tropical moist forest in the middle of the Congo basin. The site can only be reached by river and supports the highest density of Congo Peacock Afropavo congensis recorded to date.
Garamba National Park is a large area of mainly densely wooded savanna situated on the Sudan border and is the only protected area in the Sudan-Guinea Savanna biome in the country.
Lendu plateau is a large area of high ground on the west side of Lake Albert in the north-east of the country. Prigogine’s Greenbul Chlorocichla prigoginei and Bedford’s Paradise-Flycatcher Terpsiphone bedfordi are found here.
Mount Hoyo Reserve comprises the mountain at 1,450 m. and the surrounding area of forest located in the northern end of the Rwenzori range. The site may be expected to hold a good selection of the Guinea-Congo Forests biome.
Okapi Faunal Reserve is a huge tract of moist lowland forest in the north-east of the country. The rare Yellow-legged Weaver Ploceus flavipes and Golden-naped Weaver P. aureonucha occur here.
Virunga National Park is situated near the Uganda border and comprises a large variety of habitats. Species of interest which are known to occcur include Grauer’s Swamp-Warbler Bradypterus graueri, Yellow-crested Helmet-Shrike Prionops alberti and Shelley’s Crimsonwing Cryptospiza shelleyi.
Maiko National Park is a large remote area of humid primary tropical forest in the east of the country which holds an important population of Congo Peacock Afropavo congensis.
Forests west of Lake Edward are situated in the east of the country and key species include White-naped Pigeon Columba albinucha, Albertine Owlet Glaucidium albertinum and Grauer’s Cuckoo-Shrike Coracina graueri.
Kahuzi- Biéga National Park is located close to the Rwanda and Burundi borders. No systematic survey has been undertaken. The park is very important for primates.
Itombwe mountains are to the west of the northernmost part of Lake Tanganyika and are the richest single forest area for birds in Africa with 563 species recorded. The recently described Prigogine’s Nightjar Caprimulgus prigoginei is only known from here and Congo Bay Owl Phodilus prigoginei and Schouteden’s Swift Schoutedenapus schoutedeni are only known with certainty from this site.
Read the ABC feature article on the rediscovery of the Congo Bay Owl at Itombwe.
Mount Kabobo is part of the mountain range to the west of the northern half of Lake Tanganyika and Marungu highlands is situated to the west of the southern half of Lake Tanganyika.
The following three IBAs are located in the south-east of the country: Upemba National Park is a large area where Black-lored Waxbill Estrilda nigriloris is found; Kundelungu National Park although there are no recent records; Lufira valley with Lake Lufira Weaver Ploceus ruweti which is restricted to the swamps bordering the lake.
For further details, download the country IBAs from BirdLife International.