Many encouraging actions have resulted from the generous support of our Zoo Partners and all of our donors for OCP efforts to conserve the okapi in the wild. This update provides a brief overview of what ICCN and OCP staffs were able to accomplish in 2013 under extremely dangerous and difficult circumstances to safe guard the largest population of okapi and elephants in DR Congo:
- ICCN: 23 poachers arrested, over 350 snares collected, 26 guns confiscated,
17 tusks confiscated and over 7,000 km patrolled on foot throughout the Reserve.
Improving agriculture production reduces the need to move deeper into the forest to grow food and reduces the consumption of bushmeat helping to conserve okapi and other key species.
- 6,071 fruit tree seedlings distributed to local communities
10,000 woodlot seedlings distributed around Bunia to mitigate deforestation
1.2 ton of rice seed, peanut seed, and bean seed to farmers’ cooperative members
New tree nurseries established in Mambasa and Epulu
Rice/Manioc grinder and generator supplied to Ekwe Farmers’ Cooperative
Assistance provided to develop new vegetable gardens in 8 villages
Support to women’s’ associations including micro-enterprise investment in tailoring and communal gardens gives women a chance to earn money to better provide for their families.
Support of rural health clinics maintains strong bonds between the OCP and communities around the Reserve. Men, women and children depend on the nurses in these clinics for for life saving treatment for malaria, typhoid fever and dysentery. Over 2,000 people were treated by OCP nurses in Epulu in 2013.
Helping schools by providing and transporting critical materials essential for teaching young people builds trust between those working to conserve wildlife and those living with wildlife. In 2013, 106 schools, serving nearly 32,000 students, received needed supplies from OCP and 15 schools were provided with soccer balls & uniforms.
Regular radio broadcasts were made providing information on the dangers of deforestation and the hazards of being involved in illegal activities.
Workshops with FARDC military leaders and multiple meetings with customary leaders were held, regarding the laws and regulations governing the Okapi Wildlife Reserve.
Providing for basic needs such as food security, education and health care opens the door for meaningful conversations with community leaders about conservation of wildlife and forests and the detrimental effects of illegal poaching and mining on the sustainability of resources. Your donations are making a real difference the quality of life of local communities; giving hope to the people and wildlife of the DR Congo. Okapi still roam free in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve because of your generosity and concern for the future of wildlife in this conflict prone country.
Best wishes for a prosperous and healthy 2014 from OCP staff in Epulu.