Conservation Education for Students
Students are the future communicators and decision makers of conservation initiatives. Okapi Conservation Program (OCP) educators recently organized another series of classes on forest protection and management for upper-secondary students from Isiro, Watsa and Bunia. Students from these communities travelled long distances to participate in conservation awareness campaigns and to further their knowledge on environmental protection. Cumulatively, OCP educators have reached over 2,200 students from 22 schools distributing protected animal posters as part of zoology lessons; soccer balls and equipment were also given out for interschool tournaments.
OCP programs are well received by both students and school leaders who have requested regular classes and additional lessons on geography and natural sciences. In response, OCP has produced conservation lesson brochures for primary school children as well.
Generating excitement among school-aged children on conservation issues instills a positive attitude and respect for their environment which can be shared with family and friends to further protection measures for the Okapi and other animals on the Reserve.
The OCP education team continues delivering the message of sustainable hunting through Women’s Associations on the Reserve. Most recently 200 women from villages around the Reserve attended group meetings focused on protected animals of the Ituri forest. The Okapi Conservation Project also continues supporting organized women’s associations through programs safeguarding water resources from pollution and overuse. Working with the Women’s Associations provides an opportunity to demonstrate the benefits of conservation of natural resources to those that depend most on the land to support the needs of their families. Additionally, surveys on bush meat consumption were distributed in Nia Nia, Bafwanakengele, Bafwabango and Bayenga, and patrols dismantled eight poacher camps and removed over 1200 nylon and metal snares from the forest.
Local Communities Informed about Sustainable Hunting
In recent months the education team traveled extensively over the Reserve, delivering the message of sustainable hunting and protection of animal species using updated animal posters. Hunting of certain species is allowed, especially by the Mbuti pygmies, but the consumption of bushmeat needs to be regulated by government authorities. Okapi Conservation Project programs work to improve food production and nutrition, reducing the need to purchase bushmeat as a source of protein.
Two thousand copies of the posters were distributed in local restaurants, offices, schools, churches, hotels, associations and pygmy camps. During the presentation of the posters, OCP educators explained the importance of not hunting protected wildlife species and the penalties for doing so. The animal posters were especially well received in Kasindi, located at the border of Uganda, and in the town of Kisangani.
This recent campaign aims to enhance knowledge on the value of protected animal species among the communities of the Reserve, and to help all partners, including local authorities, understand the laws protecting animals that live in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve.
The notorious poacher Morgan, who was responsible for the attack on ICCN headquarters nearly two years ago, killing six people and slaughtering all the okapi at the Station, was recently killed in an exchange of gunfire between his gang and Congolese army soldiers.
Security issues have been at the heart of the lives and work of the rangers and the communities in and around the Okapi Wildlife Reserve for the past two years and this recent development has already changed circumstances for everyone. This puts an end to a dark chapter in the country’s history and presents all with a brighter future in which the wildlife and the people residing in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve can live peacefully and flourish in this unique rainforest environment.
As a result of the improved security, ICCN rangers can move deeper into the forest on their frequent patrols monitoring the Reserve. OCP has been able to provide motorbikes and cameras to reinforce supervision and documentation of activities while these rangers are on patrol, helping to reduce illegal activities including poaching and the use of deadly snares.
These rangers could not do the difficult and dangerous work needed without the support of people around the world that care. Please share this link with friends, family and associates on social media.
ICCN rangers continue to be engaged in the challenge of locating and arresting poachers in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve. As pressures from a world that has an appetite for ivory and gold mount in this remote region, rangers are finding themselves on the front lines of a ‘war against wildlife’. While elephants across the continent are being persecuted relentlessly, the isolated and remote population of forest elephants that has made the Ituri Forest their home for centuries, have also fallen victim to this appetite for ivory.
In spite of the dangers faced in this time of great insecurity in the Reserve, ICCN rangers are arresting poachers and removing deadly snares from the forest. They could not do this without the support of people around the world that care. Please share this link with friends, family and associates on social media. Together we are making progress in protecting okapi, elephant, and primates in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve.
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating or by subscribing to this project's RSS feed.