UNESCO Launches Appeal for Okapi Wildlife Reserve
4 July 2012: The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the NGO Fauna and Flora International launched an emergency appeal to support the staff and rebuild the headquarters of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve in Epulu, in the northwest of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), after a raid by ivory poachers. The Reserve, which is a World Heritage Site, hosts the DRC's largest remaining population of forest elephants, as well as okapi and threatened species of primates and birds.
On 24 June 2012 poachers attacked the facility and killed seven people. The appeal aims to raise US$120,000 by 20 July, to: protect the Reserve's elephants; support the families of those who were killed; and re-establish the okapi breeding programme.
Okapi are a rare forest giraffe, 13 of which were killed in the poaching raid. The okapi breeding programme has played a critical role in preserving its gene pool, UNESCO says.
The appeal for funds is conducted as part of the Rapid Response Facility created by UNESCO and Fauna and Flora International to raise financial assistance for conservation emergencies. [UNESCO Press Release] [UN Press Release]