Okapi Conservation Project
The Okapi Conservation Project (OCP) is dedicated to the protection of okapi by protecting and managing the Okapi Wildlife Reserve in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Okapi need undisturbed tracts of forests to sustain themselves, and protecting the forest from exploitation can be done only with the help and involvement of local communities sharing this land and forests with wildlife.
Okapi are a keystone species in this area and their conservation is critical to not only sustain the okapi populations, but also the other wildlife that make the Congo their home, including forest elephants and chimpanzees. The OCP is working to create sustainable methods of preserving the land for both local communities and the wildlife by:
The OCP sustains and supports the work of the Institute in Congo for Conservation of Nature (ICCN) to protect and monitor the Okapi Wildlife Reserve. This support includes providing essential items such as boots, uniforms and satellite phones, as well as assistance with developing an intelligence network within the communities around the Reserve to better understand mining and poaching networks.
|Community outreach and education:
OCP works with donors and partners to provide broad-based community assistance — building and supplying schools and health clinics, developing fresh-water sources, and providing medical care and transport of emergency cases to regional hospitals. Conservation education enlightens communities to the importance of symbiosis with the environment and being active stewards of their natural heritage.
Traditional farming in the region involves cutting and burning trees and other vegetation to clear plots for crops. After several plantings, the topsoil is depleted and the farmer moves deeper into the forest and repeats the process. The Okapi Conservation Project is helping farmers improve soil and crop yields by planting trees between their crop rows, thus slowing the slash and burn of the forest.
Why is this organization important to the Dallas Zoo?
The Dallas Zoo has been a key player in conservation of okapi in Africa and has been a leader in zoo management and breeding of this unique species for many years. We pride ourselves on being highly involved in the SSP and TAG related to this species and we plan to continue to support efforts to sustain their populations in the wild. The OCP is currently the best organization in the field working with these animals.