Saturday, 30 June 2012

Militia attack Okapi Wildlife Reserve & kill guards

Okapi in danger
June 2012. Early in the morning on June 24th, Simba rebels (Mai Mai militia) attacked the Institute in Congo for the Conservation of Nature (ICCN) and headquarters of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve near the village of Epulu in the north-eastern area of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
5 guards killed
According to the Okapi Conservation Project, at least five guards were killed, and destruction of buildings and looting has occurred. Fighting his way past the rebels, the reserve's Conservator Gishlain Somba escaped and walked through the night to Mambassa, where he is coordinating with the Congolese Army (FARDC) being deployed to the area, along with top rangers from Virunga National Park.
Grave concerns for 100 staff
"We are gravely concerned about the fate of our 100 staff members and the 14 okapi at the breeding and research station," said John Lukas, Founder of the Okapi Conservation Project. "As soon as the area is safe, we will go and provide whatever help we can."
The Okapi is the flagship species for one of the most biologically diverse spots on Earth--the Democratic Republic of Congo's Ituri Rainforest. Today, there are approximately only 10,000 - 20,000 okapi in the wild.
To make a donation to help the local people, rebuild the conservation station and provide assistance to the ICCN to continue to protect the wildlife of the Ituri Forest, please click here.

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