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Okapi Wildlife Reserve Appeal Update

Total Raised

Thanks to the response from donors, this appeal reached a total of £8,218.96 (approximately $13,210). The recipient of these funds is the Wildlife Conservation Society of the Democratic Republic of Congo, who will ensure that the Okapi Wildlife Reserve can continue to rebuild and recover following the serious rebel damage that it suffered.

Okapi Wildlife Reserve Emergency Plan

As part of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve Emergency Plan, donations have ensured that several activities have been completed. These include:

-          An assessment of the reconstruction and rehabilitation needs of Reserve infrastructure destroyed during the rebel attack, and the cost of reinstalling all infrastructure;

-          Redeployment of Okapi Wildlife Reserve rangers at Reserve HQ at Epulu, as well as at Zunguluka, a patrol post to the east of the Reserve. Rangers’ families remain outside of the Reserve until it becomes safer;

-          Deployment of approximately 200 FARDC (the state military organisation) soldiers. FARDC presence is strengthening the Reserve’s patrol posts and supporting joint patrols with Reserve staff to capture rebels, recover looted materials, destroy poacher camps and break up rebel networks responsible for the attacks. So far all rebels have been removed from the south-eastern and south-western areas of the Reserve;

-          Dialogue with illegal miners who have moved in and have been asked to leave through local radio channels.

Next steps for the Reserve

The overall goal is to adapt future plans to the current context of insecurity at the Reserve in order to maintain its rich biodiversity. Donations from the RRF appeal will:

-          Contribute to the removal of rebels from the Reserve and prevent cleared areas from being reoccupied;

-          Support targeted patrols that will seek to close all illegal mining and poaching camps;

-          Reinstall guards and their families at the Reserve’s Epulu headquarters;

-          Strengthen the capacity of Reserve guards through training and provision of equipment;

-          Work with stakeholders at the local, provincial and national levels to prevent conflicts;

-          Liaise with communities to restore their confidence in the security of the Reserve;

-          Help to break the chain of information about soldiers’ movements that is being passed on by illegal gold miners and poachers to rebels.

The Wildlife Conservation Society of the DRC wishes to thank appeal donors for their timely support. Already the RRF has helped to re-establish local authority presence at Reserve HQ and key patrol posts, prepare guards to resume full scale patrols and to maintain their morale despite the atrocities they have seen, and finally to create a short-term priority plan for the Reserve to ensure the site continues to function for the benefit of its biodiversity.

You can download a pdf version of the appeal update here.

Okapi credit Kim Gjerstad

Rapid Response Facility

The Rapid Response Facility (RRF) is a unique partnership operated jointly by Fauna & Flora International and UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Contact the RRF Secretariat for more information. Separate to the appeal, the RRF awarded a grant of $30,000 to WCS in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Thank you again for your support to this appeal.