Investing in endangered species before it's to late

Mbeli Bai Gorilla Study



Protecting Habitat

Established in 1995, the Mbeli Bai Study has monitored large mammals visiting a naturally occurring 13-hectare swampy forest clearing in the southwest of Nouabale-Ndoki National Park (NNNP), Republic of Congo, with minimum levels of disturbance. The Mbeli Bai study has provided unique insights into the social organization and behavior of the elusive western gorilla.  The continuous monitoring of individuals provides essential baseline life history data of this critically endangered flagship species.

The Mbeli Bai Study helps ensure the long-term protection of gorillas along with other large mammals in and around the NNNP, through applied research, capacity building of Congolese assistants, and raising awareness both locally and internationally. Additionally the permanent presence of researchers provides direct habitat protection in the south-west of the NNNP – which was a major elephant poaching area before the 90’s. Since the initiation of the Mbeli Bai Study, poaching levels at the study site have fallen to zero.


Mbeli Bai Gorilla Study

Conservation Action


Population in Decline

Western lowland gorilla populations have in recent years undergone a dramatic decline and the species is currently classified as critically endangered. Commercial hunting for bushmeat, loss of habitat through increased logging activities, and diseases such as Ebola hemorrhagic fever have all had an impact on the population, persisting throughout the region.


Club Ebobo

The Mbeli Bai Study began Club Ebobo, a conservation education program in the schools surrounding the Nouabale-Ndoki National Park in 1998. Activities have expanded and Club Ebobo is now conducted in four villages. Club Ebobo sessions are held in French, Lingala, and recently in a pygmy language, on a monthly basis. Classes are separated with the younger children doing more basic games and work, whereas older children engage in more conservation-oriented lessons. Local teachers are also included in the conservation education through a training workshop where they learn to use an environmental education activity book that includes 11 lessons designed to encourage creativity among students.


The Bai of Africa

“Bai” refers to swampy forest clearings that dot the landscape through Africa’s rainforests. Mbeli Bai is a clearing in the Nouabale-Ndoki National Park in the Republic of Congo. Detailed studies are underway there on western lowland gorillas, endangered forest elephants, sitatungas and forest buffaloes. Besides continuous bai monitoring, the Mbeli Bai Study aims to understand the importance of forest clearings and determine the ecological factors (e.g., density of fruiting trees, aquatic and terrestrial herbaceous vegetation) influencing gorilla and large mammal density and protection.