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.
Oct 28, 2011

Introducing Zoning for the Okapi Wildlife Reserve

The Okapi Wildlife Reserve (13,760 km2) is designated as a multiple use reserve in the DR Congo, providing community access for hunting and agriculture, including the Mbuti pygmy indigenous people.  The Coordination Committee of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve (OWR), lead by the Institute in Congo for Conservation of Nature (ICCN) works with community leaders and local NGO’s to designate, farming, hunting and core areas (no access or hunting).  The Okapi Conservation Project has been appointed to organize preparatory education campaigns concerning zoning in the OWR Northern Sector. The first incentive to this plan was undertaken last March, when OCP educator Gomo, and Wildlife Conservation Society partner and technician Ntumba, traveled to Watsa for meetings and obtained a zoning protocol signature from the Regional Administrator in order to proceed.

In July and August the OCP education team organized 9 meetings in villages with 250 participants from Kebo and Ateru communities to introduce the zoning concept and process. As a result, WCS zoning technicians are now working with the communities establishing agriculture zones. Suggestions from the community leaders include requests for frequent visits of OCP educators in the area and for educational material regarding hunting regulations in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve.

Even though these meetings were successful, the team again encountered very bad road conditions, especially during the rainy season, as well as suspicious deployment of army troops as challenges.  The Okapi Conservation Project education team will continue to focus their work in the northern sector, despite the distance from the project’s Epulu headquarters, which hampers communication and travel.

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Oct 28, 2011

Okapi Wildlife Reserve Zoning

Introducing Multiple Use Zones in the Northern Sector of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve

The Okapi Wildlife Reserve (13,760 km2) is designated as a multiple use reserve in the DR Congo, providing community access for hunting and agriculture, including the Mbuti pygmy indigenous people.  The Coordination Committee of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve (OWR), lead by the Institute in Congo for Conservation of Nature (ICCN) works with community leaders and local NGO’s to designate, farming, hunting and core areas (no access or hunting).  The Okapi Conservation Project has been appointed to organize preparatory education campaigns concerning zoning in the OWR Northern Sector. The first incentive to this plan was undertaken last March, when OCP educator Gomo, and Wildlife Conservation Society partner and technician Ntumba, traveled to Watsa for meetings and obtained a zoning protocol signature from the Regional Administrator in order to proceed.

In July and August the OCP education team organized 9 meetings in villages with 250 participants from Kebo and Ateru communities to introduce the zoning concept and process. As a result, WCS zoning technicians are now working with the communities establishing agriculture zones. Suggestions from the community leaders include requests for frequent visits of OCP educators in the area and for educational material regarding hunting regulations in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve.

Even though these meetings were successful, the team again encountered very bad road conditions, especially during the rainy season, as well as suspicious deployment of army troops as challenges.  The Okapi Conservation Project education team will continue to focus their work in the northern sector, despite the distance from the project’s Epulu headquarters, which hampers communication and travel.

Jun 17, 2011

Ivory Confiscation in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve

Ivory poaching in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve continues to be the greatest challenge for ICCN wardens and rangers.  Rangers on forest patrol must be ever vigilant to the great peril of encountering heavily armed elephant poachers and firefights are not uncommon.  The recent arrest of soldiers transporting ivory through the Reserve poignantly illustrated the depth of the organized network now involved with illegally poaching and selling ivory in the DR Congo.  Our programs to support ICCN and wildlife protection are critical to sustaining the important elephant populations living in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve.   

Okapi Wildlife Reserve ICCN rangers recently arrested soldiers traveling in an SUV through the Reserve, carrying 160kg of ivory in suitcases (representing 10 forest elephants killed).  An undercover investigation revealed the soldiers conducted the ivory transaction with an elephant poacher in the nearby town of Mambasa.  The group was subsequently apprehended as they attempted to transport the ivory back to their base in Kisangani.  The ivory was confiscated but the soldiers were released following the intervention of Kisangani military officials.  The incident illustrates the very complex and high level network involved with ivory poaching in the DR Congo.  The ICCN conservators, rangers and local officials involved with the investigation and arrest are to be commended for their work and bravery.     

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