Gabon: Tourism versus Oil Revenues
Loango National Park is a national park in western Gabon. It protects diverse coastal habitat. The naturalist Mike Fay called Loango ‘Africa’s Last Eden’ and this is where Michael “Nick” Nichols from National Geographic, took his well-known pictures of surfing hippos. Both men call Loango the ‘Land of surfing hippos’. The park’s 1,550 km of savanna, pristine beach, forest and mangroves are a must-see in Gabon. Loango National Park offers the unique opportunity to observe elephants, buffalos, hippos, gorillas and leopards venturing onto the white sand beaches. Wikipedia. Photo source: ©© Marfis
A decade ago Gabon set aside 10% of its land for national parks. It wanted to become Africa’s magnet for eco-tourists.
Of all the new parks in Gabon, Loango held perhaps the greatest potential to lure international tourists, given its rare wildlife and unusual coastal setting. Gabon saw the parks as a way to boost their economy, long dependent on oil.
All sorts of animals wander this rare stretch of undeveloped coast, western lowland gorillas, red river hogs, leopard tracks can been seen in the sand, elephants on the beach and hippo in the surf.
The idea was to turn Gabon into the African equivalent of Costa Rica, a country that has profited from its rainforests and wildlife through eco-tourism, hoping that tourism can help Gabon reduce its reliance on oil…