Preventing Bushmeat Poaching in Africa's Forests

by Wildlife Conservation Global
Okapi feces while on patrol
Okapi feces while on patrol

The last quarter of 2016 saw 106 patrols by ICCN for a total of 321 patrols days with 34% of the Reserve being covered in those three months. The increase in coverage rate is explained by expanding patrols into new areas of the Reserve in the northeast and southeast sectors. After expanding into these new areas, seven people were arrested and 111 were evacuated. 

While also on patrol, 1,901 snares were dismantled and destroyed. ICCN did come across a single elephant that was poached with its tusks removed. 

The deterioration and lack of uniforms, backpacks, communication devices and cameras is making patrols increasingly difficult, so we are sourcing grants and other opportunities of funding to help with the cost of repairing and replacing equipment in order to increase the effectiveness of patrols.

None of what we do is possible without the generosity of supporters like you from around the world. It is because of you that we are able to help protect critical habitat allowing okapi and many other species to have a place to live. Thank you! 

Confiscated ivory and elephant meat
Confiscated ivory and elephant meat
Aerial view of mines
Aerial view of mines


Georeferencing the ranger
Georeferencing the ranger's location

During the past 18 months, joint wildlife ranger and army patrols removed 15,000 miners from the Okapi Wildlife Reserve, but illegal mining for gold and diamonds continues to affect the wildlife through poaching for bushmeat and the presence of large numbers of people in the forest which causes wildlife to disperse. Most of the miners come from outside the Okapi Wildlife Reserve and immigration control at the borders of the Reserve have been reinforced and the road through the Reserve is closed at night. 

The 49 new recruits continue to settle in and are conducting regular patrols into the previously unpatrolled northern sector risking their lives to protect the forest and the animals that inhabit it. 

In the past 3 months, over 39% of the Reserve was covered by patrols (4,200 km) with 22 miners and 8 poachers arrested and 20 illegal mines evacuated and closed. With the arrests and closures of illegal mines, the rangers also confiscated all mining equipment and any remaining bushmeat in the camps.

The gracious support from around the world makes this challenging work and the protection of the stronghold of okapi in DRC possible. Thank you!

Burning a mining camp
Burning a mining camp
Dismantling trap in Afarama
Dismantling trap in Afarama

Bushmeat is the main source of food for illegal miners in the forest, and the closure of mines has a direct impact on the bushmeat trade. Because of ICCN ranger patrols, there has been a decrease in mining and poaching camps within the Reserve, and increased coverage in the northern sector has provided more stability to the area which has previously not been patrolled. The regular patrols continue to maintain a relatively consistent presence in remote areas, which deters miners and poachers from entering the Reserve.

They 49 new recruits have continued to prove themselves and perform well under the harsh patrol conditions, and we plan to look for and train more rangers when funds become available to support them. More rangers on the ground result in more snares collected, more poachers arrested and the closure of additional illegal mines.

Patrol results April-June 2016:

  • 133 patrols were deployed covering almost 4,200 kilometers and 377 days.
  • Collected and destroyed 1,210 snares, arrested 18 people, evacuated 575 miners, and destroyed 15 mining camps and 7 poaching camps.
  • A relatively low number of animal carcasses were observed (2 elephants)
  • OCP is providing food rations, performance bonuses and logistical support for the rangers to control illegal activities that depend on bushmeat to survive while they are in the Reserve.
Rangers endure many obstacles while on patrol
Rangers endure many obstacles while on patrol
New Rangers in Epulu
New Rangers in Epulu

The ICCN ranger patrols in 2016 are targeting poachers and miners, resulting in the confiscation of many pieces of ivory and bushmeat stockpiles and the destruction of poaching and mining camps. The patrols were recently enhanced by adding 49 newly trained recruits - increasing the number of patrols and expanding the areas currently patrolled. This resulted in more snares collected, more poachers arrested and the closure of additional illegal mines.

There is a direct correlation between illegal mining and bushmeat trade, as the miners depend on bushmeat for their main source of food while they are in the forest. By increasing the number of patrols and expanding the presence of ICCN rangers, the number of miners and mining camps has been greatly reduced. There has been an observable reduction in the bushmeat trade due to the eviction of over 15,000 miners during the preceding 12 months from inside the reserve. The protection offered by ICCN rangers and the Congolese army has allowed OCP to continue its education and community assistance programs which help build stronger relationships with communities within the Reserve which also reduces their dependence on bushmeat as food security is improved.

Patrol Results January to March 2016:

  • The new rangers participated in 195 multi-day patrols from January to March 2016 - an increase of over 100 patrol days per month over last year.
  • The rangers walked 4,501 kilometres through the forest while on patrol during this period.
  • From January to March patrols collected 981 snares, arrested 53 poachers, destroyed 7 poaching camps and 33 mining camps, evacuated 365 miners and confiscated a large volume of mining tools.
  • A relatively low number of poached carcasses were observed (2 elephants and 1 chimpanzee).
  • OCP is providing food rations and logistical support for the security operation. 
Arrested poachers and their bushmeat stash
Arrested poachers and their bushmeat stash
Miners being escorted out of the Reserve
Miners being escorted out of the Reserve


New ICCN rangers after intensive training
New ICCN rangers after intensive training

2015 was an important year in the recent history of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve, home to many threatened and endangered species. In collaboration with partner conservation organizations, DR Congo’s Institute in Congo for Conservation of Nature (ICCN) was able to double the number of rangers working in the Reserve. The newly recruited and trained rangers are now able to participate effectively in protection operations, enabling a significant expansion in the range and frequency of patrols throughout the Reserve.

Rangers walked nearly 13,000 kilometers through the forest in 2015, collecting and destroying over 2,000 snares, and arresting hundreds of poachers. Rangers not only actively seek out poachers and snares, but continue an important component of their operations in the closing down of illegal mines and removal of miners from the Reserve. As the number of illegal miners diminishes from the forest, the need for bushmeat is dramatically reduced.

Key forest dwelling species including okapi, forest elephants, chimpanzees and leopards, and many bird species, benefit from the protection of this expanded patrol coverage.

The support of conservationists from around the world makes the challenging work of wildlife protection in this unique forest of biodiversity possible!

Evacuated Mining Camp in Okapi Faunal Reserve
Evacuated Mining Camp in Okapi Faunal Reserve

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Organization Information

Wildlife Conservation Global

Location: Jacksonville, FL - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
John Lukas
Jacksonville, Florida United States
$12,633 raised of $45,000 goal
314 donations
$32,367 to go
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