Scientists from We Stand for Wildlife (WCS) have discovered a new species of ginger in the Kabobo Massif of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The rugged mountainous area is one of the most biodiverse in Africa and the recent discovery underscores the importance of conservation on this site.
The new plant is Aframomum ngamikkense, named after the four main peaks in the Kabobo Massif. The plant is found at higher altitudes -- between 1500 and 2000 meters -- but it is quite abundant in those areas.
There are approximately 50 known species of ginger throughout Africa, including Madagascar, and the fruits are eaten by the local population and also by gorillas and chimpanzees. The new ginger is the eighth unique species found in the region, and another five are being investigated. Three of them are plants, the rest are mammals and a bird. WCS Senior Scientist Andrew Plumptre says it is "uncommon to find so many unique species at one site, particularly when we have only made biodiversity surveys over a period of about four months."
To date, more than 1400 plant species have been documented in the Kabobo Massif. Scientists hope the recent discoveries will help upgrade the area to National Reserve status, especially since it adjoins the recently-named Ngandja Reserve.