Okapi Wildlife Reserve Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Okapi Wildlife Reserve occupies about one-fifth of the Ituri forest in the north-east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Congo River basin, of which the reserve and forest are a part, is one of the largest drainage systems in Africa. The reserve contains threatened species of primates and birds and about 5,000 of the estimated 30,000 okapi surviving in the wild. It also has some dramatic scenery, including waterfalls on the Ituri and Epulu rivers. The reserve is inhabited by traditional nomadic pygmy Mbuti and Efe hunters. Okapi Wildlife Reserve contains flora of outstanding diversity and provides refuge to numerous endemic and threatened species, including one-sixth of the existing Okapi population. The Reserve protects one-fifth of the Ituri forest, a Pleistocene refuge dominated by dense evergreen « Mbau » and humid semi-evergreen forests, combined with swamp forests that grow alongside the waterways, and clearings called locally « edos » and inselbergs.

Okapi Wildlife Reserve
Continent: Africa
Country: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Category: Danger List
Criterion: (X)
Date of Inscription: 1996

Why Okapi Wildlife Reserve in danger?

This includes a fully protected core zone of 282,000 ha comprising 20% of the Reserve where all hunting is prohibited, and an area of 950,000 ha for traditional use, where self-regulated hunting; using traditional methods; is authorized to cover the basic needs of the human population of the Reserve in forest products. Permanent installations and agricultural clearing are authorized in the 18,000 ha development area that comprises a narrow band on each side of the No. 4 national road crossing through the central part of the Reserve, and along a secondary road that links Mambasa to Mungbere, at the eastern border of the property. There are plans to make the whole protected area a national park. A buffer zone of 50 km wide has been defined around the entire Reserve.

Okapi Wildlife Reserve Heritage
Self-Regulated Hunting

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The Reserve Species

The Reserve contains 101 mammal species and 376 species of documented birds. The population of the endemic species of Okapi (Okapia johnstoni), a forest giraffe, is estimated at 5,000 individuals. Among the endemic mammals of the forest in the north-east of the DRC identified in the Reserve, are the aquatic genet (Osbornictis piscivora) and the giant genet (Genetta victoriae). The Reserve provides refuge to 17 species of primates (including 13 diurnal and 4 nocturnal), the highest number for an African forest, including 7,500 chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes).

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