As a direct result of improved security in the region, ICCN patrols are able to survey the status of key wildlife species i.e. okapi, elephant and chimpanzee. Kakule Kasongo, an ICCN ranger who is near the completion of a two year program at Garoua Wildlife College in Cameroon, is leading this survey as part of his academic requirements. Initial results have documented numerous signs of okapi and even occasional sightings. Particularly encouraging is the amount of wildlife being observed in and around areas that were recently occupied by miners and poachers, reinforcing the need for a concerted effort in removing all illegal activities and implementing strategies that prevent unconstrained resource exploitation in the future. It is evident, as indicated in recent surveys, that wildlife populations have the ability to quickly recover if the forest remains intact and can be protected.
The Okapi Conservation Project continues partnerships with the German Forest Biodiversity Project (which recently renewed funding for the Okapi Wildlife Reserve for another four years), and the Wildlife Conservation Society. This past year has seen tremendous strides in returning control of the Reserve to the ICCN rangers through concerted government efforts and all OCP conservation partners. We are extremely grateful for the funds generously provided by individuals, zoos, foundations and corporations, in support of the conservation of the Ituri Forest’s unique biodiversity and the communities that share their home with wild okapi.