Since the attack in June of 2012 by Maimai rebels which destroyed most of the buildings and ICCN infrastructure, OCP has been raising funds to rebuild the ICCN infrastructure in a more durable and functional manner. It took well over two years to secure the area around Epulu and for the last six years OCP staff and local construction workers including several women have built over ten structures that improve the professional look, security and functionality of Reserve Headquarters. In addition, the Zunguluka Guard Post was totally rebuilt with new housing for rangers and their families, an office and a new water source.
This quarter marks the completion of the ICCN Assistant Warden’s Residence at the Epulu Station. Construction began on the building late last year, which was made possible by a grant from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and despite the current COVID-19 crisis affecting the globe, OCP staff pushed through to complete this critical piece of infrastructure while following the recommended guidelines World Health Organization on preventing the spread of COVID-19. The Assistant Warden is responsible for all ranger operations across the Okapi Wildlife Reserve, and the new residence provides a more centralized authority, faster emergency response time, and better connections with local leaders to ensure ICCN patrols continue to monitor the Reserve effectively.
Due to the attack in 2012 that destroyed the assistant warden’s original residence, the building site was moved across the main road from the headquarters to a more secure location. Having the residence near the Epulu station gives the assistant warden direct contact to the warden, ICCN rangers, and the OCP administrative team. Not only does this connection provide a more efficient working environment, but a more secure network of defense, too.
The completion of this building serves as a statement of our perseverance through difficult times and our commitment to the communities and wildlife of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve.
A practical achievement, and also symbolic, this building was the last building to be rebuilt after it was destroyed in the attack in 2012. The new Epulu Station stands as a testament to the members of the station’s resolve and passion for the project. Particularly during this uncertain time of COVID-19, the completion of this building serves as a statement of our perseverance through difficult times and our commitment to the communities and wildlife of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve.
To improve the capabilities of the other activities based at the Station, over the past six years, a new tourist center was constructed, the guest facilities modernized, a hospital wing added to the Okapi Clinic and the okapi enclosures rehabilitated. New offices for OCP educators were built in Mambasa and Epulu and two tree nurseries were built on the western boundary of the Reserve. We continue to invest in the communities with the next structure a building for the Women’s Group of Epulu to work in that will also house and power the Epulu Radio Station. Our goal is to provide each of the Women’s Groups (three more to go) with their own building to work together to generate income to support their families.
As we move past the COVID-19 pandemic we will continue to prepare proposals to add functional buildings to the ICCN headquarters and to communities that support conservation and respect the role of wildlife and forests in preserving their cultural heritage.