Preventing Bushmeat Poaching in Africa's Forests

by Wildlife Conservation Global
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Education Campaign - Makubasi Pygmy Camp
Education Campaign - Makubasi Pygmy Camp

Local Communities Informed about Sustainable Hunting

In recent months the education team traveled extensively over the Reserve, delivering the message of sustainable hunting and protection of animal species using updated animal posters. Hunting of certain species is allowed, especially by the Mbuti pygmies, but the consumption of bushmeat needs to be regulated by government authorities. Okapi Conservation Project programs work to improve food production and nutrition, reducing the need to purchase bushmeat as a source of protein.

Two thousand copies of the posters were distributed in local restaurants, offices, schools, churches, hotels, associations and pygmy camps. During the presentation of the posters, OCP educators explained the importance of not hunting protected wildlife species and the penalties for doing so. The animal posters were especially well received in Kasindi, located at the border of Uganda, and in the town of Kisangani.

This recent campaign aims to enhance knowledge on the value of protected animal species among the communities of the Reserve, and to help all partners, including local authorities, understand the laws protecting animals that live in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve.

ICCN Guards in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve Forest
ICCN Guards in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve Forest

The notorious poacher Morgan, who was responsible for the attack on ICCN headquarters nearly two years ago, killing six people and slaughtering all the okapi at the Station, was recently killed in an exchange of gunfire between his gang and Congolese army soldiers.

Security issues have been at the heart of the lives and work of the rangers and the communities in and around the Okapi Wildlife Reserve for the past two years and this recent development has already changed circumstances for everyone. This puts an end to a dark chapter in the country’s history and presents all with a brighter future in which the wildlife and the people residing in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve can live peacefully and flourish in this unique rainforest environment.

As a result of the improved security, ICCN rangers can move deeper into the forest on their frequent patrols monitoring the Reserve. OCP has been able to provide motorbikes and cameras to reinforce supervision and documentation of activities while these rangers are on patrol, helping to reduce illegal activities including poaching and the use of deadly snares.

These rangers could not do the difficult and dangerous work needed without the support of people around the world that care. Please share this link with friends, family and associates on social media.

ICCN Guards Patrolling by the Reserve by Boat
ICCN Guards Patrolling by the Reserve by Boat

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Arrested Poachers with Evidence
Arrested Poachers with Evidence

ICCN rangers continue to be engaged in the challenge of locating and arresting poachers in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve.   As pressures from a world that has an appetite for ivory and gold mount in this remote region, rangers are finding themselves on the front lines of a ‘war against wildlife’. While elephants across the continent are being persecuted relentlessly, the isolated and remote population of forest elephants that has made the Ituri Forest their home for centuries, have also fallen victim to this appetite for ivory.

In spite of the dangers faced in this time of great insecurity in the Reserve, ICCN rangers are arresting poachers and removing deadly snares from the forest.   They could not do this without the support of people around the world that care. Please share this link with friends, family and associates on social media. Together we are making progress in protecting okapi, elephant, and primates in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve.

Destroying Snares Collected in the Reserve
Destroying Snares Collected in the Reserve
ICCN Rangers Patrolling in the Reserve
ICCN Rangers Patrolling in the Reserve

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Weapons Confiscated by ICCN Rangers
Weapons Confiscated by ICCN Rangers

The ICCN rangers have been engaged in several successful anti-poaching efforts in recent months with three poachers arrested and sent to Bunia for prosecution.  Serious challenges persist as incursions by miners and loggers into the Reserve continue, the demand for bush meat remains a pressing concern.  Poachers not only engage in snaring smaller game, but recently uncovered evidence indicates increased pressure on okapi and forest elephants.

So far this year the rangers have removed over 430 snares from the forest and arrested several poachers, confiscated 21 pieces of ivory and several guns and evicted hundreds of illegal miners from the Reserve. Many trackers and trap makers were taken into custody and released outside of the boundaries of the OWR. These law enforcement actions are significant by themselves but set against a backdrop of the danger of encountering roving bands of armed militias bent on destroying anyone aligned with authority is truly an amazing achievement.

Your support for the rangers of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve helps to protect species and habitat at a critical time for conservation of wildlife in central Africa.  Share this with your friends on social media and help us work towards the survival of the many rare and endangered animals that live in the Ituri Forest.

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Conservator Reporting on Threats within the OWR
Conservator Reporting on Threats within the OWR

Amid tremendous pressures, ICCN rangers continue to conduct patrols into the Okapi Wildlife Reserve, collecting snares and pursuing poachers. At a recent scientific and political meeting in Kisangani, evidence of the increased scale of poaching in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve was presented, including evidence of okapi deaths to snares.  With the increased pressure of miners and loggers coming into the reserve the demand for bush meat is greater than ever before, with snares becoming more numerous, and the indiscriminate casualties now affecting a wide array of forest wildlife.

In addition, ICCN rangers see clear evidence of an uptick in poaching for forest elephants in the DR Congo. These unique animals, along with elephants throughout the continent of Africa, are presently under an enormous threat from poachers after ivory.

Helping the rangers of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve protect the forest home that is needed for so much wildlife is critical now, more than ever.  We thank you sincerely for your support and ask that you share this with your friends on Facebook, or any other social media. 

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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
$12,709 raised of $45,000 goal
 
316 donations
$32,291 to go
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