The Okapi Wildlife Reserve
The Okapi Wildlife Reserve takes up about one-fifth of the Ituri forest in the Northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (UNESCO Heritage Centre, 1992-2008). According to UNESCO Heritage Centre (1992-2008), “ the Congo river basin, of which the reserve and forest are a part, is one of the largest drainage systems in Africa’’ (para. 1). The reserve contains endangered species of primates and birds and about 5,000 of the estimated 30,000 okapi surviving in the wild (UNESCO Heritage Centre, “(1992-2008)). The UNESCO Heritage Centre (1992-2008) Web site have some dramatic background, including the waterfalls on the Ituri and Epulu rivers. As stated by the reserve is inhabited by traditional nomadic pygmy Mbuti and Efe hunters (UNESCO Heritage Centre, (1992-2008)). The reserve is understaffed and short on resources which only serve to further worsen the problem as they are undermanned to deal with all of the threats to the reserve. While there are other reserves that may need funding, the Okapi Reserve is home to approximately 5000 Okapi, of the approximate 30,000 remaining. and needs funding in order to preserve them, as well as other endangered species on the reserve.
The Okapi Reserve is a beautiful sanctuary for the Okapi. It is fairly large in that its size is 1,372,625ha. It sits amidst 4 types of forests which include both primary and secondary forests as well as mixed and swamp forests. These forest types are all located in and around the reserve creating a sight to behold. There are a couple of endangered cycads, known as Encephalartos marunguensis and E.schmitzii in the area. According to the United Nations Environment Programme-World Conservation (2008) website, “in 9.1ha of mixed forest, 302 species of trees, including under storey trees, and 130 species of lianas were recorded; and in 40ha area of forest, 670 woody plant species were identified” (para. 7) These lands are home to the mammals, birds and plant life that the reserve attempts to protect.
The diversity of species in the Ituri Forest is large; the forest is home to numerous species of animals and plants. There are said to be 52 mammal species including okapi, endemic to the DRC with a wide but localized distribution, which there are 30,000 okapi remaining in the wild, the Ituri Forest had more than 4,000 in 1986 (United Nations Environment Programme-World Conservation Monitoring Centre, 2008). Some of the endemic animals found within the preserve are the okapi, the white rhino, the Congo peafowl, the fishing genet, the eastern lowland gorilla, bonono chimpanzees, water chevrotain, and the forest elephant. Other animals found in the area are; the African golden cat, leopard, giant ground pangolin, aardvark, forest buffalo, bush pig, giant forest hog, great cane rat and one of the highest number of tuiker species. There are crocodiles are found: the African slender-snouted crocodile, and the African dwarf crocodile. Among rare butterfly species, the largest African butterfly, the African giant swallowtail, is known to occur. Ituri has 376 bird species including spot-breasted ibis, olive ibis, long-tailed hawk, Nahan's francolin, black guineafowl, guineafowl, sandy scops owl, Nkulengu rail, whitenaped pigeon, Bate's nightjar, forest ground thrush, black spinetail, barecheeked trogon, black-collared lovebird, and lyretailed flycatcher (United Nations Environment Programme-World Conservation Monitoring Centre, 2008). There are also several types of birds that are endemic to this forest like; the yellow-legged weaver, golden-napped weaver, endemic to the region are Sassi's olive greenbul, Bedford's paradise flycatcher, and Ituri flycatcher (United Nations Environment Programme-World Conservation Monitoring Centre, 2008).
Describe the biological interrelationships among the life forms in the area. Trying to tease out causality in the relationship between war, conflict, and...