Oct 27, 2017

Growth of Agroforestry & Continued Goat Problems

Filling bags with soil to plant tree seeds
Filling bags with soil to plant tree seeds

The agroforestry program continues to grow into new communities and have a measurable impact within participating villages. Over the last quarter (July-September) the agroforestry program has been able to assist over 650 farmers, and OCP nurseries distributed over 13,000 seedlings including over 4,200 nitrogen-fixing tree seedlings throughout the Okapi Wildlife Reserve (OWR). The necessary agricultural tools that will be utilized to cultivate these productive plots of land, reducing the need to expand beyond established agricultural areas were distributed as well.

As more participants are included in the program, the demand for seedlings and saplings will continue to increase. OCP staff were able to lay out six vegetable nurseries in Mambasa and Biakato. These additional vegetable nurseries will continue to provide plants for farmers who are interested in growing food using sustainable methods. Additionally, the agroforestry program was able to distribute shade tree seedlings to Bandisende, Koki, Babama, Mamopi and Ebiane to fulfill community requests. A community reforestation project at several locations, including the Ekwe area was started to plant more shade trees and fill in some of the gaps where previous plantings had occurred.

Struggles with loose goats at the Epulu demonstration field continue despite a barbed wire fence that was set around the field as indicated by a very hungry goat that found its way through the newly constructed fence. To help deter goats even more, a new row of wire was set in place. Basic lessons like these are shared across the OWR to prevent sneak attacks by other goats, lessening the number of crops lost by farmers that are part of the program.

Rice Field in Bandisende
Rice Field in Bandisende
Barbed wire added to prevent goat access
Barbed wire added to prevent goat access
Nitrogen-fixing trees lengthen the life of soil
Nitrogen-fixing trees lengthen the life of soil

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Aug 7, 2017

Attack in the Reserve and Moving Forward

ICCN Rangers close down gold mines while on patrol
ICCN Rangers close down gold mines while on patrol

On July 14, 2017, the Okapi Wildlife Reserve suffered a devastating attack resulting in four ICCN rangers losing their lives. The incident happened in Bapela, where three journalists were traveling to the unoccupied mine to collect footage for a documentary on the Reserve. Unknown assailants attacked the camp around 3:30 p.m. All three journalists escaped alive and unhurt, but four ICCN rangers lost their lives. The Bapela mine was closed in April of this year using customary chiefs that directed shamans to put a curse on the mining site (see previous report), and since that time, ICCN rangers have been posted at the mine to ensure it is not reoccupied by miners.

Throughout the years, we have found that there is a direct correlation between the number of miners in the Reserve and the amount of bushmeat consumed. Mining camps can be small or large and can last for a couple of weeks to a couple of months. These miners need to eat, so they set snares and traps in the forest to catch wildlife. The more miners that are evacuated and kept out of the Reserve decreases the amount of wildlife killed for food.

With the recent loss of four ICCN rangers, it will be harder to patrol the Reserve with our already low ICCN staff. Efforts are being made to increase the number of rangers in the Reserve, however, all rangers must complete a year of training before being placed on patrol. ICCN rangers play a vital role in reducing poachers, illegal miners and the need for bushmeat, and we continue to protect the wildlife and the forest to honor those lives lost.

While on patrol, rangers collect snares and arrest anyone participating in illegal activity. In the first six months of this year, rangers have already covered 7,550 kilometers while removing 1,760 nylon snares, arresting 76 poachers and evacuating over 580 miners. Without the ICCN rangers patrolling the forest regularly, miners and poachers would be prominent in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve. Supporters like you allow us to continue the hard work we do in reducing illegal activity while protecting the biodiversity of the Ituri Forest in the DRC. We thank you for your continued support!

ICCN Rangers on patrol
ICCN Rangers on patrol

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Jul 21, 2017

New Vegetable Gardens and Deterring Goats

Distributing seedlings from Niania nrusery
Distributing seedlings from Niania nrusery

Members of the Okapi Conservation Project staff spent 20 days, between April 20 and May 9, in the north, northwest and northeast in the reserve meeting with customary chiefs and other community leaders, such as political and administrative authorities, military officials, and members of women’s associations. 

On the trip, steps were made toward helping local people use farming methods that have less of an impact on the forest through our agroforestry program.

The staff made another stop at the Niania nursery that was constructed earlier this year. Since its construction, over 8,000 seedlings were distributed to the villagers, including over 3,000 nitrogen fixing tree seedlings. Along with seedlings, many agricultural tools were distributed and the staff ended up assisting over 300 people through this nursery alone.

Along with visiting and helping a nursery that the staff had previously created, ten new vegetable gardens were created in Mambasa and Biakato to help the local people grow food using sustainable methods.

While working at these gardens, the staff came across some very interesting difficulties….one of these being goats. Wandering (and hungry) goats often make their way across the land looking for more food. Unfortunately, these gardens are a prime place to find goat food. To deter the goats from feeding in the gardens, the staff fixed barbed wire around each garden. Hopefully this will protect the villager’s food from unwanted dinner guests.

Through your continued and dedicated support to this project, these villagers have been provided with increased sources of food in the form of new vegetable gardens and the distribution of seedlings to improve their crop yields. 

Installing barbed wire to prevent pesky goats
Installing barbed wire to prevent pesky goats
Seedlings thriving at Niania nursery
Seedlings thriving at Niania nursery

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