Extending from west Africa to Madagascar, from the vast lowland Congo Basin to the archipelago of forest islands on its eastern rim, the African rain forest is surpassed in size only by the Amazon. This book sheds light on the current efforts to understand and conserve the African rain forest, an area in need of urgent action to save its biological wealth, cultural heritage, and economic potential. Written by conservation scientists and practitioners based in the African rain forest, the book offers a multidisciplinary perspective that integrates many biological and social sciences. Early chapters trace the forces--from paleoecological factors to recent human actions--that have shaped the African forest environment. The next chapters discuss the dominant biological patterns of species ranging from the distinctive elephants, gorillas, and okapi to the less well known birds, butterflies, and amphibians. Other chapters focus on how such different groups as hunter-gatherers, forest farmers, bushmeat hunters, recent immigrants, and commercial foresters have used the forests. Several authors stress the need for tighter links between research and conservation action. The final section draws lessons from the collective experience of those working in an Africa wracked by political strife and economic hardship.