Ituri Forest is a dense tropical rainforest lying on the northeastern lip of the Congo River basin in the Central African nation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Situated between 0° and 3° N latitude and 27° and 30° E longitude, the precise geographic limits of the Ituri are poorly defined, especially along its southern and western extensions. The Ituri is bounded to the north and northeast by savanna and in the east by the fertile highlands of the Western Rift Valley, while to the south and west it is contiguous with the lowland rainforest, where its rivers drain into the Congo River. The total area of the Ituri Forest is approximately 24,300 square miles (62,900 square km). The forest, which is inhabited by both Bantu-speaking and Pygmy peoples, owes its name to the Ituri River, which flows east-west across the forest into the Aruwimi River and thence to the Congo.
For many generations, people residing in the Ituri have been practicing a form of agriculture that entails clearing and burning the forest, growing their crops, and then moving after several years to allow the forest to regenerate during a long fallow period.
Situated near the forest-savanna edge, Ituri fauna include not only species typical of the African equatorial forest but also forms, such as the hyena, that are usually found on the open savanna. The most notable species is the forest giraffe, called okapi, which is endemic to the Ituri. Numerous forest antelopes include five species of duiker, the water chevrotain, and the pygmy antelope. Leopards, genets, and mongooses are the main carnivores. The elephant, buffalo, and bongo (a kind of antelope) are present in forms slightly smaller than their savanna relatives. The Ituri also supports the greatest diversity of primates of any comparable area in the world. The many monkeys include the terrestrial anubis baboon, as well as the leaf-eating imperial black and white colobus and the owl-faced monkey. The only ape is the chimpanzee. Hundreds of species of birds have been recorded; among them, the shy Congo peacock, discovered in 1936, is perhaps the most famous.