Thursday, 6 September 2012

Okapi killers captured by Congo army

Rare Okapi Killed in the Attack
September 2012. U.N. Radio says Congo's army has captured a militia leader and 16 of his combatants accused of killing okapis in the country's northeast.

Rangers and 15 okapi killed
The station said that Paul Sadala, whose alias is Morgan, was captured after leading his militia in a June attack on the Okapi Wildlife Reserve that killed two park rangers and 15 okapi.

On June 24, a group of armed rebels attacked the headquarters of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve, situated in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo, killing seven park staff and their family members. Others were taken hostage or are unaccounted for. The entire Reserve infrastructure was destroyed and the 15 okapi of the Epulu Breeding and Research Station were all killed. Epulu plays a central role in protecting the future of the okapi by serving as a reservoir for the infusion of new genetic stock into okapi populations in global conservation programmes.

Important reserve
The Reserve, inscribed on the list of World Heritage in Danger since 1997, is home to about 5,000 okapi, the rare giraffe-like forest creature, as well as significant populations of leopard, elephant, chimpanzee and crocodile. Its bird life makes it one of the most important sites for bird conservation in mainland Africa, and nomadic Mbuti pygmies live within the Reserve.

The future activities of the Okapi Conservation Project will be in accordance with the security situation in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve. At this point the OCP is focused on helping people displaced by the turmoil, supporting The Congolese Wildlife Authority's anti-poaching efforts, assisting communities around the Reserve and cleaning up the Station.

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