Preventing Bushmeat Poaching in Africa's Forests

by Wildlife Conservation Global Vetted since 2010
Preventing Bushmeat Poaching in Africa's Forests
Preventing Bushmeat Poaching in Africa's Forests
Preventing Bushmeat Poaching in Africa's Forests
Preventing Bushmeat Poaching in Africa's Forests
Preventing Bushmeat Poaching in Africa's Forests
Preventing Bushmeat Poaching in Africa's Forests
Preventing Bushmeat Poaching in Africa's Forests
Preventing Bushmeat Poaching in Africa's Forests
Preventing Bushmeat Poaching in Africa's Forests
Preventing Bushmeat Poaching in Africa's Forests
Mining camp documented during May aerial survey
Mining camp documented during May aerial survey

During the second quarter of 2018 (April-June) the dedicated rangers of ICCN covered 4,780 km (2,970 miles) on foot patrols through dense rainforests searching for illegal activity in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve.

As a result of these patrols, the rangers closed 12 poaching camps, and 27 mining camps, confiscating all tools and contraband including 33 machetes, 3 guns and 9 rounds of ammunition. While closing the poaching and mining camps, the rangers arrested 92 poachers and peacefully removed 345 miners from the reserve.

These results were possible from an aerial survey completed in May that covered 2,223 km (1,381 miles), identifying 76 active mining sites that will be closed over the next few months. Closing these mines and poaching camps greatly reduces the demand for bushmeat and allows the rainforest habitat to take over the impact left from humans. 

These continued advances are made possible by the generous support of you, our donors around the world. 

Thank you!
Okapi Conservation Project Team

Epulu and airstrip from plane
Epulu and airstrip from plane
Arrested poachers with ivory
Arrested poachers with ivory

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Construction of Zunguluka Guard Post
Construction of Zunguluka Guard Post

OCP support of ICCN is the cornerstone of protecting okapi habitat. The construction of a new office, an immigration processing building and sanitary facilities at the Zunguluka Patrol Post is nearly complete. Once in operation, this major access point to the Reserve will be much more efficient and thorough in processing people and vehicles travelling through the Reserve on the only East-West road in Eastern DRC.

We welcomed a new warden, Paulin Tshikaya, on January 8, 2018, and we expect he will continue the excellent programs initiated under his predecessor, Radar Nishuli.

The rangers made a concerted effort to expand their patrol effectiveness during the dry season months of January and February. The first quarter results were enhanced by the presence of 400 Congolese soldiers in Epulu which mounted several operations targeting poaching gangs which impacted the number of poachers operating inside the Reserve. During the first quarter of 2018, ICCN rangers carried out 132 patrols covering 4,838kilometers.

While on patrol, rangers destroyed 761 snares, destroyed 27 poaching and mining camps, confiscated 2 guns, 226 rounds of ammunition and assorted mining tools. Rangers inspected 13 of the 16 known active mines inside the Reserve, evacuated 298 miners and arrested 43 repeat offenders. The rangers are very diligent about recording observations and signs of key wildlife species while on patrol. During January-March, they observed four okapi (one for every 1,210 kilometers walked), 17 forest buffaloes, 20 forest elephants, and many species of primates, duikers and birds.

All the difficult and dangerous work of the ICCN rangers and Congolese soldiers has provided a chance for the wildlife populations to move back into areas around mines and poaching camps once the people have been evacuated. We are hopeful that the presidential election will be held in December and DRC will, with the help of many concerned foreign nations, move quickly to establish law and order in every part of this vast country. We sense hope from our OCP staff members and friends in Kinshasa and in the meantime, we must hold the line safeguarding okapi habitat until a new regime takes on the responsibility of governing a country overflowing with natural resources that, if properly utilized, could lift its people out of poverty. Eliminating lawlessness will make the work of the rangers and OCP staff much less dangerous and much more productive and really provide a secure future for wild okapi.

Funding from donors like you help the ICCN monitor wildlife, remove snares, and enforce the laws in the OWR. Your support provides the rangers with valuable training, tools and equipment. Rangers work tirelessly to protect the Reserve and all of the wildlife contained within. The efforts of the ICCN rangers and OCP has allowed for the expanded usage of camera traps in the Reserve. Cameras have captured some amazing images of the native wildlife, including the first ever video of an okapi calf walking through the forest with its mother! We thank you so much for your continued support!

Construction of Immigration Control Office
Construction of Immigration Control Office
ICCN Ranger patrolling forest
ICCN Ranger patrolling forest

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Poachers Arrested in the OWR
Poachers Arrested in the OWR

The holiday season is always a busy season for the ICCN rangers in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve. There is a marked uptick in poaching events around the holidays as poachers hunting bushmeat and profits enter the forest during this time of year. The ICCN rangers respond in kind with an increase in patrol efforts, focusing on areas that are known to be frequented by poachers. By utilizing local knowledge and intelligence reports the ICCN rangers were able to focus their efforts where they would be most effective. In the month of December alone rangers performed a total of 51 patrols, more than 10% of the year’s total, in an effort to protect okapi and the other wildlife in the reserve.

The increased presence of the ICCN ranger patrols in the forest increases the likelihood of encountering poachers and apprehending them, while also serving to deter poachers from hunting in the first place. The tireless effort of the ICCN rangers removes poachers, snares and illegal firearms from the forest. These arrests and seizures protects the wildlife that lives in the forest.

Funding from donors like you help the ICCN monitor wildlife, remove snares, and enforce the laws in the OWR. Your support provides tools and equipment for rangers to complete their jobs in a demanding environment as well as provide access to health care to keep them on patrol. Thank you so much for your continued support!

Equipment Confiscated from the OWR
Equipment Confiscated from the OWR
Seized Bushmeat and Firearm
Seized Bushmeat and Firearm
Burning Bushmeat
Burning Bushmeat

The 1st of August marked the official closure of hunting in the forest zones of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve (OWR). The leadership of ICCN issued a reminder to all the local communities residing in the OWR and distributed an official order to abide by the pre-established hunting schedule.

Later in the month, on the 22nd of August, ICCN rangers apprehended an individual in Salathe, located just 25 km from the Epulu Station on the road to Kisangani, with a large amount of smoked bushmeat.  The meat found on the individual was from a yellow-backed duiker, a protected species, 20 blue duikers and several monkeys. The meat they carried was destined for the market in Badengaido, and would have fetched approximately $400. The market in Badengaido is where the miners working the Muchacha gold mine shop for food. This incident is a poignant reminder to why closing down the various gold mines is so important when it comes to controlling the bushmeat trade in the Reserve. This individual was brought back to Epulu and the ICCN, to serve as an example for all of the gathered bystanders. Additionally, the confiscated bushmeat was burned to prevent it from being sold, and to reinforce that it is illegal to kill wildlife when the OWR regulations prohibit hunting.

Funding from donors like you help the ICCN monitor wildlife, remove snares, and enforce the laws in the OWR. Your support provides tools and equipment for rangers to complete their jobs in a demanding environment as well as provide access to health care to keep them on patrol. Thank you so much for your continued support!

Smoked Duiker Bushmeat
Smoked Duiker Bushmeat
Burning Bushmeat Discourages Poaching
Burning Bushmeat Discourages Poaching
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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Organization Information

Wildlife Conservation Global

Location: Jacksonville, FL - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.okapiconservation.org
Project Leader:
John Lukas
Jacksonville, Florida United States
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