Dec 20, 2010

End of the Year - Preventing Bushmeat Poaching

As the  year winds down we would like thank all  of our friends and supporters of the Okapi Conservation Project who help us to conserve the important forests and wildlife in Africa.  Our bushmeat project has worked closely with the rangers in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve to reduce illegal poaching.  Your support in 2010 has helped us to develop community conservation committees around the Okapi Wildlife Reserve, working with local customary chiefs to engage them to take an active role in the stewardship of their natural forest and wildlife heritage.   In 2011 these community conservation committees will be encouraged to focus on their regional communities and help the Okapi Wildlife Reserve rangers control illegal hunting for bushmeat and ivory.  We hope you will share our project success with your friends and consider helping us in 2011 with a gift that makes our world a better place. 

Wishing you happy and safe holidays from the Okapi Conservation Project.

Nov 16, 2010

Agroforestry in the Ituri Forest

Demonstration Agroforesty Garden, Epulu, DR Congo
Demonstration Agroforesty Garden, Epulu, DR Congo

The solutions to slash and burn agriculture are not simple.  Subsistence farmers in the Ituri Forest of the DR Congo have used slash and burn agriculture for centuries practicing shifting agriculture.  As the population in the region has grown in the last years, there are many more people around the Okapi Wildlife Reserve all trying to eke out a living from the forest.  The same forest which is critically important for the okapi, forest elephants, chimpanzees and many unique wildlife species. 

One of the Okapi Conservation Project's methods of stopping slash and burn agriculture has been to introduce new crops which are not detrimental to the forest soils and can provide farmers with ample food for their families.  One of these crops, manioc or cassava is a staple food and we have helped introduce disease resistant strains of manioc which produce better yields and high quality leaves and roots, both of which are consumed by farmers and their families. 

The Okapi Project has also introduced other vegetables like eggplant, peppers and squash as well as growing techniques to help farmers produce more varied and nutritious foods.  Once the farmers see that their current plots will continue to be productive, they don't need ever larger plots which reduces the need for them to cut more forest down.  These techniques are known as agroforestry and are an important tool to help farmers live in harmony with the forest.  If the forest is intact the wildlife and people who depend on the forest can thrive.

Nov 16, 2010

Ituri Forest November Update

poacher in Eastern DR Congo
poacher in Eastern DR Congo

The Okapi Conservation Project Education Team recently conducted a seminar on wildlife poaching for the DRC Army based in nearby Mambasa on the eastern side of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve.  This was one of the first times we have had the opportunity to talk directly with the Army personnel in the region about the elephant and wildlife poaching problems in the Reserve.  Many times poachers are ex-military personnel who are exploiting the natural resources of the forest, and they are often well armed and dangerous.  The project, and our partners the Institute in Congo for the Conservation of Nature will continue our dialogue with the military leaders to help create an understanding of the current poaching issues and to enlist their help to control the dangerous poachers.

 
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