Okapi Conservation Project

Dublin Zoo has been supporting the Okapi Conservation Project since 2012, helping to conserve okapi in the wild, while also preserving the biological and cultural diversity of the Ituri Forest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

All images and videos courtesy of Okapi Conservation Project.

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Okapi Conservation Project

Dublin Zoo has been supporting the Okapi Conservation Project since 2012, helping to conserve okapi in the wild, while also preserving the biological and cultural diversity of the Ituri Forest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

All images and videos courtesy of Okapi Conservation Project.

Protecting okapi and the Ituri Forest

The Okapi Conservation Project (OCP) works with the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature to protect okapi in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve (OWR). This 13,700 square kilometre portion of the Ituri Forest is home to the largest population of okapi (3,000-3,500) in the DRC, along with chimpanzees, forest elephants, leopards, and a huge diversity of birds and plants. OCP supports ecoguards in the OWR, which collect snares, evict miners, pursue and detain poachers, and monitor biodiversity and human encroachment. All of the OCP’s initiatives respect the contribution that the indigenous Mbuti and Efe people can make to the management of the OWR and their forest home.

 

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Status in the wild

The okapi is considered Endangered under the IUCN Red List, with between 10,000 – 15,000 left in the wild. Okapi are threatened by habitat loss due to logging and mining, illegal hunting for meat and skins, and the presence of illegal armed groups in and around key protected areas, which prevent effective conservation action.

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Updates from the field

In 2021, the OWR recruited, trained and welcomed 59 new ecoguards, bringing the total number of ecoguards to 253! OCP also provides medical care at their clinic in Epulu, and at 20 rural clinics around the OWR, helping to keep ecoguards, their families and local communities healthy.

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35 years of okapi conservation

2021 year in review

What they say about Dublin Zoo's support

“The support from Dublin Zoo is critical to our work protecting the forest home of okapi in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Empowering communities to protect the surrounding forest while also providing for their own aspirational needs creates a win-win situation that benefits both people and animals while building trust among the communities where we work.”

– Lucas Meers, Program Officer, Okapi Conservation Project

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