There is a crisis unfolding in the DR Congo and the Okapi Wildlife Reserve. Early in the morning on Sunday June 24th Simba rebels (Mai Mai) attacked the headquarters for the Okapi Wildlife Reserve in Epulu. We have had reports that at least five guards were killed, buildings destroyed and significant looting has occurred. The Project Director, Rosie Ruf is in the United States to attend meetings has refocused her visit to gather the appropriate resources to begin to deal with the situation that is unfolding. Rosie Ruf and President John Lukas are coordinating efforts and monitoring the situation in conjuction with the Wildlife Conservation Society(WCS). WCS currently has staff on the ground in the reserve as well. Presently there is no communication from Epulu, but we have received reports from a staff member who escaped and walked all night to Mambassa. Congolese Army troops (FARDC) are on their way to Epulu now and should arrive sometime this evening in Epulu. Currently the primary concern is the fate of our 100 staff members and the 14 okapi at the breeding and research station. The director of Virunga National Park, is sending his top rangers in to help and plans to do a flyover to assess the situation on Wednesday. As soon as we obtain reports directly from Epulu we will be updating our supporters and their families. Rosie Ruf and John Lukas intend to go directly to Epulu to assess the situation as soon as deemed secure to assess the situation and begin the process of rebuilding.
We are accepting donations that will be utilized for rebuilding our conservation station and provide whatever assistance available to those families who have lost a loved one. We remain committed to the people and animals throughout the Okapi Wildlife Reserve as we have for the last 25 years and are grateful for the generous support of our donors.
White Oak Conservation Center, Inc.
1615 Riverside Ave
Jacksonville FL 32204