The Congo and OgoouĂ© Basins in Central Africa make up the world’s second-largest expanse of tropical forest cover. These forests provide habitat to an incredibly diverse array of wildlife and plants and represent a vital source of food, clean water, and other benefits to approximately 80 million people. Unfortunately, Central Africa’s forests and wildlife face a number of serious threats, including:

  • Overhunting to supply the commercial bushmeat trade;
  • Elephant poaching for ivory;
  • Destruction of habitat by poorly managed extractive industries, such as logging and mining;
  • Disease in great apes;
  • Capture of marine turtles and their eggs;
  • Taking live animals from the wild for the pet trade; and
  • Seasonal, transboundary cattle movements, also known as transhumant pastoralism, which creates pressure on Central African savannas and adjacent forests.
Mountain gorilla with offspring. Credit: Dirck Byler / USFWS

Mountain gorilla with offspring. Credit: Dirck Byler / USFWS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has been involved in Central Africa since 1989, when the U.S. Congress passed legislation that led to the African Elephant Conservation Fund, and later the Great Ape Conservation Fund and the Marine Turtle Conservation Fund. Since then, USFWS has provided ongoing technical and financial assistance to save some of the world’s most iconic wildlife: forest elephants, gorillas, chimpanzees, marine turtles, and a host of other awe-inspiring species that have inhabited Central Africa for hundreds of thousands of years.

Through its Africa Regional Program, USFWS implements funding from the Central Africa Regional Program for the Environment (CARPE) to secure wildlife by targeting key threats to animals and their habitats, strengthen capcity and forge partnerships on the ground, and build a better evidence base for conservation.

For nearly 30 years, USFWS has worked closely with foreign governments, multi-donor agencies, other U.S. government agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society. Building on these years of experience, USFWS has established a strategic, results-based vision for wildlife conservation in Central Africa, emphasizing direct action in the field and the strengthening of individual and institutional capacity.

In order to maximize conservation success, USFWS has provided guidance for grantees to better monitor, assess and report on performance and learn what works and what doesn't from projects implementing similar actions. This more systematic approach is designed to increase accountability and improve long-term results.

Our Investments through the Africa Regional Program: USFWS has been a major partner of CARPE since 2006. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) serves as lead agency for CARPE. Over the last decade, USFWS has played an increasingly important role in CARPE, with a $70 million apportionment to USFWS between 2015 and 2018. USFWS has developed a network of key projects that target the region’s wildlife priorities and are funded through CARPE, building on three decades of presence in the region through the Congressionally mandated species funds for African elephants, great apes, and marine turtles.

USFWS employs a two-pronged strategy to combat the serious threats facing Central African wildlife:

  1. Small, competitive grants for on-the-ground projects that respond to immediate threats; and
  2. Long-term cooperative agreements that focus on strengthening in-country capacity to effectively manage wildlife populations and their habitats.

This combined approach allows USFWS to provide rapid responses to emerging threats while ensuring ongoing financial and technical support to achieve long-term results. In this way, USFWS plays an active role in shaping Central Africa’s conservation programs over time.

 Virunga rangers with sniffer dog, followed by children. Credit: Virunga National Park

Virunga rangers with sniffer dog. Credit: Virunga National Park



Africa Program 2018

Total Number of Modified Cooperative Agreements and Grants Awarded 12
Total Number of New Grants Awarded
Total Funds Distributed Through Grants $15,028,275
Total Partner Contributions Leveraged by Grants $13,619,892
Total Number of Countries that Received Program Support
* Not including regional projects

Where We Work: USFWS works across the Congo Basin and supports conservation, including in the following countries: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Republic of the Congo.