Wildlife Protection

The OCP sustains and supports the work of the Institute in Congo for Conservation of Nature (ICCN) to protect and monitor the Okapi Wildlife Reserve, which includes logistical, technical,ICCN Guards medical, and financial support for the 110 conservators, guards, and their families based in Epulu. Threats to wildlife in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve include illegal hunting, encroachment from human settlement, illegal logging, and mining camps in the Reserve. Wardens and rangers have established a presence in the forest and are responsible for enforcing wildlife protection laws for the Reserve.

The OCP support for ICCN includes: bonuses for wardens and rangers to supplement their salary and reward their positive efforts; new motorcycles, fuel, and spare parts to enable travel in and around the Reserve; rations for guards while on patrol in the Reserve; the development of an intelligence network within the communities around the Reserve to better understand mining and poaching networks; administration travel to Mambasa, Wamba, Bunia, Isiro, Kisangani and Kinshasa; and solar power, computer, and office supplies for the ICCN offices in Epulu. Okapi Wildlife Reserve rangers receive various essential equipment such as boots, uniforms, and raincoats. Communication for the Reserve is provided through the purchase of satellite phones (Thuraya) and GPS units utilized by patrols within the Reserve. The ICCN headquarters is now able to receive updated information from patrol posts around the Reserve, and from temporary bases within the Reserve, at any time.

Five permanent guard outposts are now operational around the OWR, and two temporary mobile outposts are also functioning, all of which are designed to maximize ICCN coverage in areas of the OWR that are experiencing the impact of human activities. The OCP helps support these outposts by supplying materials and infrastructure to allow the guards to patrol and protect remote areas of the Reserve.

Aerial View of a Mining CampThe process of tackling mining related threats within the OWR includes the development of annual aerial surveys to detect mining and hunting camp sites and areas of illegal human encroachment. Mining camps can be observed and even some permanent villages have been found within Reserve boundaries, especially along the Ituri River on the southern border and the Nepoko River in the northern border. The aerial surveys provide the opportunity to observe important areas such as saltlicks and rock outcrops where wildlife may be concentrated. Vegetation patterns and specific areas of forest destruction due to slash and burn agriculture are also noted. This information provides ICCN wardens and rangers with focal areas to address the illegal mining and encroachment issues in the Reserve.

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