White Oak Conservation Center Inc

White Oak Conservation Center, Inc helps conserve some of the earth's rarest wild animals through innovative training, research, education, community outreach and field programs that contribute to the survival of wildlife in nature.
Mar 6, 2012

Aerial Survey 2012

Arabia Falls
Arabia Falls

How do you monitor the health of a rainforest?  One of our methods is to conduct regular aerial surveys.  Unlike the savannahs in Africa, where you can fly over and actually count elephants and other wildlife from the air, this level of detail is impossible in the dense forests.  Yet aerial surveys are still important and can reveal a lot.  The indicators include poaching camps, mining camps, and areas where agricultural encroachment into the Okapi Wildlife Reserve is increasing. 

To conduct the aerial surveys we work with partners at MAF who maintain excellent small planes with very skilled bush pilots.  Flight transects are performed over a 3-5 day period (depending on weather) in different sectors of the vast Okapi Wildlife Reserve (13,760 km2).  Observers in the plane look for any evidence of illegal activities and of course enjoy the incredible diversity of tree and plant life in the landscape of the Ituri Forest.

Details from the surveys are provided to the rangers of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve who then deploy to the areas of illegal activities in the forest to detain the perpetrators.  This process has worked very well in the past to stop illegal poaching and mining activities inside the Reserve.  The aerial presence also helps deter poachers and miners who realize their activities will be seen from the air.  The surveys are another important tool in our work to conserve the forest and protect the okapi, elephants and other wildlife.

buffalo in forest clearing
buffalo in forest clearing
healthy forest
healthy forest
poacher camp smoke
poacher camp smoke
Mar 6, 2012

Aerial Forest Monitoring

typical slash and burn plot
typical slash and burn plot

One of our tools for monitoring the health of the Ituri Forest and the Okapi Wildlife Reserve is aerial surveys.  By conducting regular fly overs we can detect illegal activities such as poaching and mining, as well as agricultural encroachment into protected areas.  Farmers expand their farms because slash and burn agricultural techniques are inefficient and their fields become unproductive in 2-3 years and they cut down more forest to try and feed their families.  The aerial surveys identify areas where agricultural areas are encroaching into the Reserve so that the teams can focus on those issues.   

The Okapi Conservation Project agroforestry team works with farmers providing techniques which improve and preserve the soil quality while producing higher yields to allow them to efficiently feed their families.  The Project education team teaches farmers about their role as stewards of the forest, to understand the importance of the wildlife and forest and their natural heritage. By regularly monitoring with aerial surveys we can evaluate the progress of our programs to control slash and burn agriculture and reforestation.   

healthy forest!
healthy forest!

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Dec 9, 2011

Fall Update 2011

This report includes and update on the Okapi Conservation Project with information on the education team and agroforestry team, personnel and activities working to conserve the Ituri Forest and the Okapi Wildlife Reserve.  Specific details on agroforestry projects related to stopping slash and burn agriculture and photos are included.

Agro-forestry Update

The Agro-forestry team continues to work with farmers around the OWR.  Gathering seeds and planting and transferring seedlings take up a large portion of our efforts.  As nitrogen fixing leguminous plants, Leucena and Calliandra seedlings form the important basis for farmer’s plots and are the first trees planted to restore the soil in preparation for planting vegetables and food items.  Both can also be used for fuel wood as they grow larger.  The team also distributed fruit tree seedlings for farmers, for a total of 7514 trees distributed and planted in the last quarter.  African Mosaic Disease in cassava plants causes serious problems for subsistence farmers in the region who depend on the cassava as a staple.  Our team is helping to distribute and study disease modified strains of cassava for farmers participating in the program and four community fields of disease resistant cassava were recently established

The Assistant Director of the Okapi Conservation Project is Marcel Enckoto, a Congolese national born in eastern DR Congo.   Marcel has been working for the Okapi Conservation Project since July 1990 after receiving his degree in Human Sciences (Linguistics and Psychology).  He is married with 4 children, who go to school in Butembo, DRC.   Marcel feels the okapi is important as a scientifically unique species and has worked nearly his entire life to ensure its protection.  He enjoys speaking with and education people, both nationally and internationally about conservation.  It takes great courage to tackle the big challenges of traveling around the Okapi Wildlife Reserve to teach about conservation while dealing with major issues like poor roads, poverty, political instability and persistent illegal activities. 

Thanks to your gifts and the Global Giving community we are able to work with subsistence farmers and improve their livelihoods and their ability to care for their families, while preserving the forests and wildlife in the Ituri Forest of the DR Congo.

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