Maiko National Park is part of the 7 national parks located in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. It was created in 1970, and covers an area of 10,830 km² within three provinces: Orientale, Maniema and North-Kivu. The park’s 4,180 square mile expands to the Oso River and extends north to the Lindi River. Primarily, the park was gazette to protect a block swamp forest.
In terms of biodiversity, the Park is the second in species richness among the 8 biodiversity reserves in the Congo. It is characterized by a dense equatorial forest. Maiko National Park is a habitat for several key endemic species such as the eastern lowland (Grauer’s) gorilla, the okapi, the forest elephant and the Congo peacock. It is also an important watershed and plays an essential role in the sequestration of carbon.
Maiko National Park has not been developed for visitors. The functioning of the park as a protected area has been severely compromised by lack of national and international support, its inaccessibility and the continued presence of armed bands. The park has been adversely affected by civil wars that began in the late 1990s and continued into the 21st century. The armed bands are responsible for the large-scale poaching of elephants, okapis and gorillas. They also encourage and support the illegal exploitation of minerals within the park, and are a constant threat to park staff and visitors. Unfortunately, certain elements of the regular army also engage in poaching and in the exploitation of minerals inside the park.