• Wildlife Rangers and Okapi Killed in DRC

    By AFOP, June 30th 2012

    Two wildlife park rangers, four others and thirteen rare okapi, a central African mammal resembling a giraffe and zebra, were killed last Sunday by rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It took United Nations troops and the Congolese army two days to take control of the area and remove the militia, known as Mai Mai or Simba rebels. Buildings from the Okapi Wildlife Reserve and the Institute in the Congo for Conservation of Nature (ICCN) were attacked and destroyed during the attack which killed the two wildlife rangers, one of their wives, an immigration worker and two local residents. Computers, medical equipment and other items were stolen from the facilities during the attack. The attack was believed to have been in response to a crackdown on elephant poaching and gold mining inside the Okapi Wildlife Reserve.

    There are currently estimated to be between 10,000-20,000 okapi remaining in the wild, with poachers, deforestation and human encroachment threatening their existence. The threats facing the rare and elusive species are exasperated by socio-political instability in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which makes conservation extremely challenging and makes being a conservationist or wildlife ranger a dangerous task.

    In Virunga National Park which stretches across the DRC and neighbouring countries, over 150 rangers have been ruthlessly killed during the last 20 years, by poachers and militias. The latest attack shows the extreme length poachers will go to kill endangered and rare animals for profit.

    Okapi Conservation Project- Rebel attack update

    (CC) Image by Trisha Shears