On Sunday June 24, a group of armed bandits/poachers attacked the headquarters of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve in the Congo Basin, a UNESCO World Heritage site, killing at least 7 park staff – with extreme cruelty in some cases. Others were taken hostage or are still unaccounted for. All park infrastructure was destroyed and the 15 okapi, a rare forest animal closely related to the giraffe, at 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 the okapi populations in global conservation programmes around the world.
The day after the destruction of the Epulu HQ, UNESCO met with the Director of Okapi Wildlife Reserve as well as the Director General of the country’s protected areas authority (Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature), to assess the situation and define the immediate response needs. UNESCO’s position and networks have, and will be, effective in catalysing positive results for conservation, and UNESCO are strong supporters of this campaign.
As part of the UNESCO network, the Rapid Response Facility is calling out for support among the global community in helping quickly restore a full and stable governmental presence in the area and restart okapi breeding activities at Epulu. For this, the RRF seeks immediate support for the following: i) rebuilding the destroyed infrastructure (staff accommodations, park offices, Epulu breeding centre buildings; ii) replacing destroyed equipment; iii) and providing support to the families of murdered park staff.
Please donate to this appeal now.
If you give permission to be contacted, donors will receive an electronic report, with pictures, on the success of the appeal and the work accomplished with the funds raised.
Over the past 5 years, the RRF has been able to provide rapid support to 31 emergency situations in natural World Heritage sites around the world.
The RRF is an initiative of UNESCO and Fauna & Flora International (FFI). Donations will be handled by the RRF Secretariat at FFI. FFI has longstanding partnerships with organisations operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo and will ensure that donations are used as effectively as possible. 3% of the total raised will go to UNESCO for future missions and monitoring as the security situation at this site stabilises.
For more information please contact the RRF Secretariat on firstname.lastname@example.org