The Okapi Wildlife Reserve

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The Ituri rainforest, found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is one of the most biologically diverse areas in Africa. Known for its civil and tribal conflict the Democratic Republic of the Congo is also known for the Okapi Wildlife reserve. The reserve is found within the Congo River basin, which is considered Africa’s main drainage system. Encompassing nearly one-fifth of the Ituri Rainforest, the Okapi Wildlife Reserve contains many endangered mammals and birds. Included in the endangered animals is the elusive okapi. Out of 30,000 okapi still in existence, the reserve is a haven for roughly 5,000 of them (Woods Hole Research Center, 2009). The okapi share the reserve with several species of primates, birds, and elephants. Animals are not the only creatures roaming the Ituri forest. The nomadic pygmy tribes Mbuti and Efe are found here. They live off the plants and animals within the forest (Turnbull, 2001). Some animals, however; they will not hunt due to spiritual beliefs. All of forests inhabitants rely on the lush and dramatic scenery of waterfalls, lowland tropical forests, and the canopied rainforests that are homes to a wide range of plants that are not located anywhere else. Despite the unique animals, plants, and culture found within the reserve, it is unfortunately endangered itself. The Okapi Wildlife Reserve created in 1992, was placed on the protected United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) list in 1996 (UNESCO, 2010) and World Heritage in Danger added them in 1998 (World Heritage List in Danger, 2010). The Okapi Wildlife reserve is caught in the middle of warfare and politics that leaves it understaffed and not properly equipped. Not only are tools needed to keep the reserve alive, but they are needed to fight the threats surrounding the reserve. Further resources and funding are needed to ensure the survival and preservation of the reserve as well as the endangered species within. Many of the...
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