ICCN Rangers provide the first line of defense to protect okapi, forest elephants, chimpanzees and other animals that call the Reserve home. The dedicated rangers risk their lives each day in order to ensure the Reserve remains protected. So dedicated in fact, the rangers conducted over 146 patrols in the first three months of this year, covering over 4,900 kilometers around the Reserve. Six okapi were encountered, meaning rangers walked an average of over 800 kilometers between okapi sightings!  While on patrol, the rangers documented other sightings and signs of forest elephants, chimpanzees, hornbills and recorded locations of any illegal activity for future follow up.

ICCN rangers on top of inselberg.

Snares have an enormous impact on animals that live in the forest. Luckily, metal snares, which tend to cause much more damage, are far less common than nylon snares, comprising of only 15% of the confiscated snares during the first quarter of 2019. Okapi are strong enough to break nylon snares, but they can still trap the smaller animals like duikers. Overall, ICCN rangers removed over 2,800 snares over the first three months of the year.

Most snares (85%) collected by rangers are nylon, which can be broken by okapi.

When rangers encounter illegal activity, it’s documented through SMART technology (Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool). Poachers are arrested, their camps burned, and miners are peacefully removed from the Reserve with their tools confiscated. A unique confiscation this quarter was a bow with a collection of poisoned arrows used for poaching small animals.

Bow with poisoned arrows.

ICCN rangers continue to risk their lives protecting the forest encountering armed poachers, traversing difficult terrain and enduring harsh conditions for days at a time. We are incredibly thankful for all the work they’ve done and what they continue to do to ensure the Reserve maintains the highest density of okapi, forest elephants and chimpanzees in DR Congo.