Welcome to your Research Project

at the

Réserve Naturelle des Gorilles de Lésio Louna

(République du Congo)




Why to make your research project with us? Because the "Réserve Naturelle des Gorilles de Lésio Louna" is a diversified area within a very characteristic African biome.



Several projects have been done in our beautifull reserve. The main one is the reintroduction of orphaned Gorillas started in 1993. But since then, several other have been done.

Look at them

About us

Your research project will be helped by our skills and collaboration with our partners: the MEFDDE and the IRSEN ("Institut National de la Recherche en Science Exactes et Naturelles").

Who are we?

The geographical side

The Batéké Plateau is a vast area of wooded and non-wooded grasslands interspersed with gallery forests and small dry forest patches, extending from south-east Gabon through central Republic of Congo and southern Democratic Republic of Congo to northern Angola. The Lesio-Louna Reserve lies within central Plateau region of Congo, located 160 km north of Brazzaville. Including the adjacent southern portion of the Léfini Faunal Reserve, it reaches an area of approximately 1748 km². It is managed through a joint partnership project between the government of Congo and the UK-registered charity The Aspinall Foundation.
The plateau Batéké is covered with deep Kalahari sands, which date from the Eocene period (around 50 million years ago). Much of this plateau has been eroded away, leaving a mosaic of remaining smaller plateaus, often delimited by sandstone escarpments, and separated by water courses and extensive areas of sand dunes.
Some dramatic escarpments and cliffs border also the east limits of the reserve. The reserve is crossed by numerous watercourses pooling in three main rivers (Louna, Loubilika, Malouari) ending in the Léfini river.


The climate is similar to that elsewhere on the plateau, with a dry season from late–May to mid–September, the heaviest rains in October–December and February–April, with a slightly drier period around January. Annual rainfall in the Lesio-Louna is around 1500–2000 mm (King 2008) and the limited data available for 2002 suggest that the survey was undertaken during a typical year (King et al. 2004). The altitude ranges from 300 to 750 m.


The last survey gives an estimate of more than 17000 people living in the neighboring villages. Most of these people are farmers. This population results in various anthropic pressures on natural ressources (illegal logging for charcoal and fire woods, gardening, bush fires, poaching, fishing) inside the reserve. The savannah in and outside the reserve is burned regularly by local people, sometimes 4 to 5 times per year in some places. These fires can spread into forest patches, particularly in the latter part of the dry season.


The biological side

The diversity of habitats in the Batéké Plateau, nestled within the heart of the Congolian forest block, supports a unique mix of forest and grassland/woodland faunal species, prompting some authors to classify the area as part of the Guinea-Congolian/Zambesian transition zone of White (1983) (Dowsett-Lemaire 2001, King and Chamberlan 2007).
Over 70% of the Lesio-Louna consists of Loudetia grassland, either non-wooded or lightly wooded, the dominant savannah tree being Hymenocardia acida, whereas other woody species include Annona senegalensis, Syzygium guineense var. macrocarpum, Maprounea africana and Strychnos spp. Hyparrhenia grassland occurs on the surrounding plateau, and in damp valley bottoms. The escarpments bordering the east of the reserve support dry mixed forest, often dominated by Piptadeniastrum africanum and other Fabacae, whereas the rivers crossing the reserve are bordered by gallery and swamp forest with Xylopia spp., Raphia sp. and Uapaca spp. amongst the dominant species.

The reserve harbours various savannah and forest animals. Among the mammals, we find now western gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla), De Brazza's monkey (Cercopithecus neglectus), moustached monkey (Cercopithecus cephus), Malbrouck's monkey (Chlorocebus cynosuros), side-striped jackal (Canis adustus), leopard (Panthera pardus), hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius), red river hog (Potamocherus porcus), forest buffalo (Syncerus cafer nanus), bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus), sitatunga (T. spekei), bush duiker (Sylvicapra grimmia), and various species of Cephalophus. The forest elephant remains in the adjacent Léfini Reserve and are rarely seen in the RNGLL. In the west of the Southern sector some evidences of Chimpanzees (Pan traglodytes) can be found.


The reserve is an important refuge for several birds species restricted to central African grasslands, such as the Black-chinned Weaver, Finsch's Francolin and Congo Moor Chat. The Black-chinned Weaver prefers wooded grassland, while the Congo Moor Chat is abundant in open plains of Loudetia grasslands, being easily seen along the track from Mpoumako to Abio. Finsch's Francolin is generally difficult to see, except when surprised along savannah tracks, but is widely distributed in both wooded and open Loudetia grasslands.
Other species of interest include large enigmatic grassland species such as Black-bellied and White-bellied Bustards, rarely-seen specialities such as Black-headed Bee-eater and Sladen's Barbet, forest favourites such as Grey Parrot and various species of Hornbill and Turaco, a wealth of kingfishers, barbets, tinkerbirds, sunbirds, widowbirds and weavers, and of course the amazing spectacle of the annual migration of thousands of Abdim's Storks between end of January and April.

Research Projects

Several projects have been conducted in the past.
Explore them and those actually ongoing.


In the Past

Among the projects realised in the "Réserve Naturelle des Gorilles de Lésio Louna", we found:
2014 - 2015 : Study of carbon sequestration - Estimation of the carbon stocks of above- and below-ground biomass.
???? - ???? : Fishs of the Léfini river - The first assessment of the fishs in this basin.
2007 - 2013 : Origin of savannah fauna - This work show which is the affinity its fauna.
2007 - 2008 : Study of Ants of the RNGLL - A first study of the leaf litter ants of the RNGLL.
2002 - 2007 : The birds of the Lesio-Louna and Léfini Reserves - Status of 317 species, adds 59 species to the reserves one subspecies for the country.
1987 - today : Projet Protection Gorilles (in french) - Re-introduction of orphaned Gorillas.



Some projects are currently running on the field:

Fire Dynamics in the Batéké Plateau : PhD work (2015-2018) to study the dynamics and impact (plant ecology, soil carbon content) of fires on selected plots

Hydrophysical analysis of the lakes in RNGLL : Characterisation of water in two lakes of the RNGLL



For the future?

Here are some suggestions of research fields related to our needs. Other ideas, suggestions are more than welcome.

- Fauna biodiversity assessments

- Worms and soil biodiversities

- Orchids Inventory

- Freshwaters quality analyses

- Carbon sequestration

- Tourism development and its impacts

- Improving anti-poaching methods and monitoring

Other Ideas (PDF)
The Team of John.
One new born.
John himself.
Well... What happens now?...

Projects in Focus

The re-Introduction of Western orphaned Gorillas (PPG)

The western gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) is classified by IUCN (2007) as Critically Endangered due to past and current rapid population decline, and is listed on CITES Appendix I.
The UK-based charity The Aspinall Foundation is coordinating the re-introduction of the species to the Batéké Plateau region of the neighboring Republics of Congo and Gabon, from where it has been extirpated during the past few decades. This is being undertaken within the framework of the Projet Protection des Gorilles (PPG), initiated in co-operation with the respective governments in Congo in 1987, and in Gabon in 1998.

The overall mission of PPG is to work with local partners for the conservation of indigenous endangered species in general, and of gorillas in particular. Gorilla re-introduction is one of the activities of PPG to realise this mission. The current re-introduction sites are the south-west Léfini Reserve in Congo, and the Batéké Plateau National Park (PNPB) in Gabon. The two protected areas are approximately 200 km apart, and are subject to collaborative management projects as a result of the re-introduction program.

Read More

The Fish fauna of the Léfini river

This first study reports 140 fish species belonging to 76 genera, 27 families and 11 orders. At least four species are new to science: Distichodus teugelsi (Distichodontidae), Rhabdalestes yokai (Alestidae), Brycinus sp. (Alestidae), Parananochromis sp. (Cichlidae). The Parananochromis sp. was first reported in the Congo Basin. A comparative study of Bryconaethiops microstoma from the Bas-Congo and those from Léfini basin revalidate Bryconaethiops yseuxi. The Characiformes, Siluriformes, Osteoglossiformes are the most diverse orders. The families Mormyridae, Alestidae and Distichodontidae are the most representative. The structure of fish communities are distributed following the types of banks (forest or grass) and types habitat: grassy shaped pond "Pool", grassy, high forest canopy cover, forest with average canopy cover, and forest with very low canopy cover. The habitat types were characterized, using the combination of the five most abundant fish species. The indices of species richness S, H and R show that the grassy habitat shaped pond is less diversified than all others. Considering these indices there is no major environmental problem. (Summary in french)


The anthropic impacts on the RNGLL

In 2006, LAB patrols have driven at least 1815km inside the RNGLL for a total of 220 days of bivouac (773 man/days). Monitoring wildlife shows that South and East areas are highly impacted by human activities. For the 4957 traces met, the most common species in decreasing order are: Bushpig (North Zone) and the sitatunga (South and East Zone); Duiker; Buffalo (North Zone); Bushbuck and duiker yellow back. The proportion of carnivorous (Jackal striped flank, Leopard) also decreases in South and East zones. Despite the lower abundance of small primates in these zones, we observed a strong presence of Moustack monkeys. The habitat could explain this paradox.

Human activity also results in these areas by deforestation, fisheries and use of NTFPs. The presence of many villages in the East and South of the RNGLL, and the existence of user charges in the RNGLL, although perfectly legitimate, are the main source of anthropogenic pressure with a preponderance of hunting in the eastern and northern areas. The hunting pressure in the North zone is mainly caused by the presence of motorized hunters from Brazzaville.

Our Services

Wish you to realize a project inside our reserve?
Explore how we can help you.



Submit us your research proposal. The scientific research permits are free and will be obtained for you by our partner. We will help you also to obtain your export and CITES permit.



We propose you our logistical force to help you to reach your goals and make your field journey as fruitful and pleasant as possible. Some specific materials could also be available.



In Brazzaville, we can suggest you several hotels or even book them for you. In the RNGLL, our camps are waiting for you and are the start of your field works.


How to proceed

All the possible costs are summarized here. Please feel free to contact us if you have some specific needs or all other questions.


To obtain a research permit please submit us your research proposal. This should explain in french why you are interested to realise a project in the RNGLL, the background of your field project, the expected results, its length, a small budget showing your expenses on the field, and if you collect samples, a list of animals/vegetals of your interest with their CITES Status.

You should also add a short CV and a list of your publications. These documents will help the scientific board to examine your proposition.

The CITES permit is needed for all export of collected material. Because it take some times, please contact us enough in advance (especially if you spend a short time on the field) to help you to prepare this document. Please also note that all animals and vegetals put on the CITES Appendix I are forbidden for the export. Exportation of their samples need to be discussed well in advance with the MEFDDE and/or IRSEN, before the field work .

The research permits and the export authorisation are FREE as soon as your proposal has been accepted. It allows you to collect inside the RNGLL during one year at maximum. It can be renewed upon request. The CITES permits cost 20000 FCFA and take around 1-2 months to be available.


To move to the RNGLL you can rent one car of the Aspinall Foundation project or, if your prefer, any of the other cars. Inside the RNGLL you must use a 4 wheels (with high frame) car to move on the trails. On the rivers, you should rent the boat(s) of the project. The length of your use of this boat depend also of your need but also the need of the tourism. Long term renting is not encouraged, in this case, we can help you to rent some canoe from the local village. These will be used only o the Léfini river.

Inside the RNGLL you can also move by feet following or not the existing trails. In this case, one guide, 2-4 ecoguards need to walk with you (depending of your destination). Camping and bivouac inside the RNGLL is allowed for researchers only during your field work. May be you could also need some "carriers" or other people that we could contracted for you depending of your need. All people not related to the reserve ("carriers", e.g.) need to be insured. The insurance rates is depending of their "class of risk". Feel free to ask us at least one month in advance to help your to adjust our schedules and give you all information to prepare your budget.


At your arrival, you can stay in one of the hotels in Brazzaville (the prices turn around 35-50000FCFA depending the level. In Brazzaville you could have a meal for around 5000-15000FCFA depending the restaurant. Moving in Brazzaville is very easy with the green cab and cost around 1500-2000FCFA for one run in the center.

Two main camps (Iboubikro and Abio2) will host you inside the reserve. Electricity, water, shower and toilet are available. Depending of your need, you can sleep inside the rooms or under your tent.

Like you wish you can also have a cook who will prepare your meals in the existing kitchen or you can cook your own yourself on your own cooking device. You must prepare your meals in the kitchen to follow local regulations.

How to proceed and Costs

1- Contact us to discuss your idea. We will give you the information to contact more people if needed.

2- Send us a formal request for a research authorisation + a short brief of your proposal (including background of the project, technics to be used, material and human resources needed, results expected, possible date to start) + a copy of the CV of all the members (at least of the head of the project). Don't forget that all research project must include at least one national student during their field work. This student will realize his thesis on the subject of your choice. We will forward these documents to our partner, the "Institut de Recherche en Sciences Exactes et Naturelles" (IRSEN). May be the IRSEN could rent some of their material depensindg of your kind of research.

3- The IRSEN will analyse your proposal and, if necessary, they will contact for more information. If they agree with your proposal, they will produce the research authorisation which will start at the date as you request. This authorisation is valid for one year or less depending of your need.

4- At this moment, it is your time to apply for a visa. You should contact the Congo Embassy in your country to know the documents you will need. More probably, to arrive in Congo, you will need a invitation letter + a letter of housing. Please contact our TAF team who will make and send you a copy of these documents. This step will cost around 50000 FCFA (for the administration+logistic to do that).

5- Make your vaccinations, book your fligth and all your luggage for your material.

6- The day of your arrival in Maya-Maya Airport, one people of the TAF or the IRSEN will acknowledge you at the airport and drive you to your hotel (if you book one on your side OR if we book one for you).

7- All logistic to drive you to the field and to realize your field work will be facilitate by our team. So please contact us in advance to help us to manage our respective schedules

8- To export your samples, you will need an export permits and a CITES permit. If you need to collect samples related to animals of vegetals included in the CITES Appendix 1, please contact us well in advance to discuss about that and to obtain the authorizations. Before the end of your project, please contact the IRSEN to prepare you to give all information about the samples you have what you wish to export. The Export permit is free for the moment. The CITES permit cost 20000FCFA for the moment. The IRSEN will ask to the Ministry for these permits.

9- To export, you need also to fit the rules of the Airplanes companies or the Express mail companies. Please contact them well in advance to avoid some bad surprises.

10- Before to leave the country, please let us 3 copies of a preliminary report about how was your field work, some preliminary results and suggestions about our help/logistic.

11- After your project, we will welcome a final report about your field work and result. This could be used to validate a renewal of your research permits, if needed.

Synthesis of all costs
Permits and entrances fees
Research permits FREE (for the moment)
Export permits (CITES)* 20000 FCFA
Export authorization FREE (for the moment)
Park fees** National 5000 FCFA / people
Expatriate living in R of Congo 10000 FCFA / people
Expatriate 15000 FCFA / people
Car Renting 100000 FCFA / day
Gasoil 44000 FCFA / day
Driver 10000 FCFA / day
Boat (including benzine) 2 people (including the boat driver)*** 100000 FCFA / day
3 people (including the boat driver)*** 125000 FCFA / day
4 people (including the boat driver)*** 150000 FCFA / day
5-6 people (including the boat driver)*** 200000 FCFA / day
7-10 people (including the boat driver)*** 60000 FCFA / day
one room (with 1 or 2 beds) (without meals) 30000 FCFA / room / night
The tree beds room (without meals) 45000 FCFA / room / night
Bivouac (tents) near the camps (without meals) 5000 FCFA / day
in the bush FREE
Human ressources
Stipend for local student (in addition you could also take in charge his own material/logistical) 2000 FCFA / day
Guide 2000 FCFA / day
Rangers 2000 FCFA / day
Carriers 1700 FCFA / day
Cook 2000 FCFA / day

**These park fees are paid only one time at the entrance for a 2 weeks stay in the RNGLL. During these two weeks you could go in and out without additional costs. For longer stays, we will apply a flat rate (to be decided) which will allow you to also go out and enter in the RNGLL like you wish.
Please note that all the other parks in the country apply a park fees by day spent inside the park, whatever the duration of your stay. In our reserve, tourist will pay these fees for each entrance

***Please note that your luggages could be counted as 1 or more people depending their volume.

To these costs, you should add the cost of your visa, flight ticket, stay in the hotel in Brazzaville. In 2016, the gasoil cost 475FCFA/liter and the benzine 575FCFA/liter. Please also note that it is obligate to involve one local student (BSc or MSc, depending how long your field work is) into your work to support the development of local capacities.


The Aspinall Foundation work in the "Réserve Naturelle de Gorilles de Lésio Louna" (RNGLL) through the PPG project.



The MEFDDE manage the conservation of a network of protected areas, and the exploitation of the natural ressources in the country.



The IRSEN has been created to develop the Research about the environnement and natural ressources of the R. of Congo.


The Aspinall Foundation

Since 1987, The Aspinall Foundation has been working with the governments of the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) and, since 1998 in the neighbouring state of Gabon, to protect nearly 1 million acres within the unique savannah ecosystem of the Batéké Plateau that spans these two countries. These projects, named "Projet Protection des Gorilles" (PPG), work with local partners and national governments to develop a three-pronged approach to stop the rapid decline of critically endangered western lowland gorilla numbers (down by 60% in the past 20-25 years).

The projects work within globally accepted conservation strategies (IUCN and Great Apes Survival Project - GRASP) and routinely disseminate reports and results at conferences and in international publications, while popular articles have featured in many high readership publications such as National Geographic, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent and Africa Geographic. The projects have also featured in two BBC produced television documentaries as well as the award winning "Gorilla Gorilla" documentary for Animal Planet.

The Aspinall Foundation funded park rangers work to protect this biodiversity hotspot where species such as forest elephants, servals, Debrazza monkeys, red river hog and forest buffalo are found. The success of the anti-poaching activities has been widely praised by national government and NGO partners, such as the Wildlife Conservation Society. The Aspinall Foundation is also involved in the PROFADELLL-2 project, a UE funded project targeting the local development in periphery of the RNGLL to decrease the anthropic pressures onto the reserve.


Ministère de l'Economie Forestière, du Développement Durable et de l'Environnement

The Congolese forests covers an area of 65% of the national territory. 13% of the country is devoted to protected areas. Since 2000, the Congo is implementing a forest policy where sustainable development and credible certification of all forest concessions are the goal. Currently around 29 logging concessions are running, several of them already have a plan development, are certified by FSC, or with a management plan.

The Congolese forest and wildlife policy seeks to reduce poverty and make the forest and wood sector, a growth sector. It also takes account of the new opportunities offered under regional and international cooperation in the frame of the management of forest resources in Central Africa, like the Forest Partnership of Congo Basin.

The Ministry of Forest Economy and Sustainable Development, which apply this policy sets the following basic objectives: continued working on forests, so that in 2016, year of completion of the National Plan development, all the forestry concessions have management plans; increasing the production of forest products including local tranformation; the creation of nearly a thousand jobs; the rehabilitation and construction of new basic infrastructure; improving housing and living conditions in rural areas; the further development of alternative activities in forest concessions, buffer zones and peripheral protected areas.


Institut de Recherche en Sciences Exactes et Naturelles

The Institute is responsible for developing research in geosciences, biometrics, physics, mathematics and the natural sciences in Republic of Congo.

Several members of the different laboratories also ensure the activities of teaching at the University Marien Ngouabi.

Various collaborations are underway with international institutions and research laboratories.


This site was created glad to the support of our funding agencies. The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Commission or the other agencies.