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
Anthony, the pilot taking the chimp to Lwiro
Anthony, the pilot taking the chimp to Lwiro

Recently, a young chimpanzee and baboon were confiscated by ICCN rangers in Badengaido and brought to our In-Country Director, Rosie, for initial care. Badengaido is a town inside the Okapi Wildlife Reserve that has grown exponentially as it is a collection point for miners to access illegal mines nearby. 

The animals were brought to our station because we cared for confiscated primates previously. In the 90s, we would care for confiscated chimpanzees and release them on an island in the Epulu River near our station where they could form their own troop, but still be within our care. In recent years, we haven't had any primate confiscations nearby until the chimp and baboon, potentially as a result of the explosive growth of Badengaido.  

When the primates were confiscated by ICCN rangers, they were immediately brought to us because of our past experience in caring for primates. Though we aren't set up for long-term care any longer, we were able to provide some antibiotics and loads of generous affection before arranging a transfer of the two animals to Lwiro Primates via Virunga National Park with the help of Kahuzi Biega National Park.

Sadly, the confiscation of a single chimpanzee youngster means the loss of their mother and most likely the rest of the family members as chimpanzees will try and defend themselves against poachers. As more and more people travel to the mines, they rely on bushmeat to feed themselves. Once they manage to kill the adults, it is common to sell the young animals to the black market as pets for additional income. Wildlife trade is a serious issue and if not controlled, will have serious effects on wildlife populations.

Thankfully for this case of the chimpanzee and baboon, ICCN rangers discovered them in time, and we are happy to report the youngsters arrived safely at Lwiro and are now with proper veterinary care. 

Chimp check up at Lwiro
Chimp check up at Lwiro
The baboon youngster receiving a check up.
The baboon youngster receiving a check up.

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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
 

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Wildlife Conservation Global

Location: Jacksonville, FL - USA
Website:
Project Leader:
John Lukas
Jacksonville, Florida United States
$15,266 raised of $45,000 goal
 
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