Okapi Conservation Project Update – March 13, 2013

Morgan and his men continue to destabilize the region with recent attacks on two gold mining camps outside the western boundary of the Reserve.  FARDC arrested six Mai Mai rebels and confiscated twenty AK-47′s and one machine gun before they were able to attack the town of Nia Nia.  According to local sources, Morgan has lost support from allied groups of Mai Mai and is now believed to be staying outside of the southern boundary of the Reserve with a diminished force.  Eighty FARDC soldiers and 40 ICCN rangers are now stationed in Epulu, allowing OCP and WCS staff to return and resume operational activities from Reserve Headquarters.

School Supplies Distributed

School supplies being distributed to schools around the Okapi Wildlife Reserve

During my recent visit to DR Congo, meetings were held with OCP and ICCN staff and a three-month budget was formulated to respond to the most recent developments in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve.  Additionally, OCP staff along with representatives of the Wildlife Conservation Society met with the new Governor in Kisangani to explore ways the DRC government could better coordinate restoring security to the Okapi Wildlife Reserve.

Providing support to pygmies living in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve

OCP staff providing support and supplies to pygmies living in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve

 

While travel around the Reserve is difficult, OCP staff members continue to implement community assistance projects where feasible and ICCN rangers are carrying out patrols away from areas where there has been recent conflict.  With the care and involvement of individuals and institutions from around the world during this difficult time, we have been able to not only maintain our scope of influence, but also provide support to many communities caught up in the violence associated with illegal resource exploitation occurring within the Okapi Wildlife Reserve.

John Lukas

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