A shocking rebel attack took place on Sunday 24 June at the reserve headquarters and nearby village of Epulu in the Okapi Faunal Reserve in north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a key field site for ZSL's collaborative range-wide okapi conservation project.
The Mai Mai rebels were believed to be gold miners and poachers acting in revenge for the efforts of ICCN (the Congolese conservation authority) to control these illegal activities inside the reserve.
At least six people, including two ICCN rangers, and 13 captive okapi held at the reserve headquarters, have been killed, as well as buildings destroyed and equipment looted. Other reserve staff and villagers fled on foot into the forest following the attack or were taken hostage by the rebels.
ZSL’s okapi project team is currently working at the Okapi Faunal Reserve with the support of local partners but fortunately was not present at the time. Our thoughts are with these partners, ICCN, Gilman International Conservation and the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the villagers of Epulu, who have suffered these horrific losses.
To find out more about ZSL’s work to conserve the okapi in DRC, click here.