With great sadness the Okapi Conservation Project reports the recent death of Mbuti pygmy “chief” Makubasi. One of our closest and longest partners in the DR Congo, Makubasi and his Mbuti family group lived at the Epulu Station and worked with the Okapi Conservation Project since its inception in 1987. Early on Makubasi grasped our objectives concerning conservation in the Ituri Forest and as a leader in the local Mbuti community he assisted the Okapi Conservation Project in our efforts, particularly for the care of the okapi in Epulu and with tourism. Over the years he and his family shared their way of life with many visitors passing through the Epulu Station. His knowledge of the forest and his leadership abilities were great assets to our work, helping provide a variety of forest leaves to feed the okapi living on the Station, and thrilling guests with net hunts and overnight trips in the forest. Makubasi was a true “Little Big Man” and we are ever indebted to him, for his service and help to protect the Okapi Wildlife Reserve, and for enlightening us and accepting us as a good will ambassador to the Mbuti pygmies.
We are privileged to have known and worked with Makubasi all these years, but his birth date and thus his age were unknown to us. He raised nine children, five daughters and four sons and two of his boys continue working with the Okapi Conservation Project. Makubasi was buried in Epulu following his death last week.
The Okapi Conservation Project has established a fund in Makubasi’s name to provide food, health care, and basic school materials for Mbuti living in Epulu. To make a contribution to this fund, click here and please make a note of the fund in the Comments field.