Monday, December 27, 2010

Involving Local Communities in Antipoaching Campaign

A joint mission with the Okapi Conservation Project Education team and the Community Conservation Unit of Institute in Congo for the Conservation of Nature (ICCN) recently traveled to the North of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve. They held meetings with Wamba and Watsa Territory officials, police, army, customary leaders, school directors and church leaders. Girls and boys were selected from all secondary schools to participate in soccer competitions related to the events.

The intent of the meetings included: recognition of ICCN as public institution involved with conservation in the region; participants support for ICCN anti-poaching campaigns; acceptance of local customary leaders to participate in joint public awareness missions; establishment of an ICCN guard base camp near Wamba; and need for collaboration with the court in Isiro to punish arrested poachers according to conservation laws.

In recent years the Okapi Conservation Project education team has been working in the northern region of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve under challenging environments, including very difficult travel conditions on poor roads. This mission is a great success for the future integrity of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve, establishing critical lines of communication, collaboration and cooperation.

Marcel Enckoto, Assistant Director, Okapi Conservation Project

Friday, December 10, 2010

ICCN Ranger Graduation

The Okapi Conservation Project is committed to helping the Congolese protect their wildlife and forests. We provide special training opportunities for members of the Institute in Congo for the Conservation of Nature (ICCN), who are responsible for the management of wildlife and protected areas in the Congo. ICCN rangers Somba and Dugira recently completed a year-long wildlife management and conservation course at Southern Africa Wildlife College (SAWC) based in the Rep. of South Africa. The well-respected SAWC courses immerse students in theoretical, practical and technical conservation studies. The two rangers, and their classmates from around Africa participated and completed the various SAWC classes and home studies and recently graduated. They now return to Epulu with the responsibility of sharing their recently gained knowledge with their ICCN ranger colleagues working in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve, and leading efforts to conserve the wildlife of the Ituri Forest. The opportunity to attend the SAWC was provided through a grant from the US Fish and Wildlife Service.