Okapi Conservation Project
The Okapi Conservation Project is located within the Ituri Forest, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the most biologically diverse country in Africa. The Ituri Forest covers 175,000 square kilometers of lowland tropical forest and contains some of the most important closed canopy rainforest and species diversity in the world. In recognition of the importance of this unique ecosystem, which harbors high levels of endemism, including a large population of okapi, the Okapi Wildlife Reserve was created in 1992, encompassing 13,700 square kilometers. In 1996, it was designated as a United Nations World Heritage Site.
The Okapi Conservation Project (OCP) was initiated in 1987 with the objective of eliciting support for the conservation of the wild okapi from individuals, foundations and zoological institutions managing okapi around the world. Okapi ambassadors in zoos help instill awareness of the rapid destruction of rainforests and generate financial support for the preservation of okapi habitat in the Ituri Forest of the Congo River basin. The OCP has significantly contributed to the establishment and security of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve, one of the most biologically diverse areas in all of Africa.
The objective of the project is to develop an economic and educational base on which a functioning okapi reserve can operate. This is supported by the OCP program areas of agro-forestry, conservation education, alternate livelihoods, and community assistance, coupled with direct support for the Institute in Congo for the Conservation of Nature (ICCN) to protect the wildlife and forest of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve.
The 40 staff members of the OCP and the 110 government rangers under the direction of ICCN depend upon outside funding to do their important work. These brave and dedicated individuals work tirelessly in extremely difficult and dangerous conditions to ensure the survival of the okapi in the wild and engage local communities in the sustainable use of natural resources. The OCP is committed to raising funds to support the remarkable people working to conserve the okapi and its tropical forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo.