Conservation Crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
Dear Friends of Naples Zoo,
As Director of Conservation, I am all too familiar with the challenges of saving endangered species in their native habitats. Friends within the Zoo community involved in conservation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have just shared that Congolese rebels attacked the Institute in the Congo for Conservation of Nature headquarters (ICCN) and Okapi Conservation Project (OCP) base of operations in Epulu.
Rebels have killed locals including 2 wildife rangers and one ranger’s wife. In addition to murdering, looting and burning the conservation projects resources, the rebels also killed 13 okapi and injured another. These wondrous creatures are the only living relatives of giraffes. They were not even known to science until 1900. The early reports indicate the destruction is far worse than anyone could have imagined.
These rebels are not fighting for a political cause. They are elephant poachers and illegal miners. This attack on the ICCN was retaliation for recent efforts that disrupted their poaching and mining activities. The rebels want to reopen the mines and poach wildlife without interference. The OCP was also targeted because of their significant support of ICCN operations and personnel.
On a personal note, I have friends from Congo and Rwanda including a young woman who is a refugee from the civil war in the DRC who is now staying with my wife, daughter, and I for a few months. This country has many profound difficulties. The individuals who work so hard to protect nature in these circumstances are dedicated beyond measure. Please consider making a donation so they can rebuild and continue.
Help Them Today: The Wildlife Conservation Network has offered to collect contributions for the emergency fund while the ICCN focuses efforts on rebuilding the Station and keeping programs operating that aid the local communities.
Please make your contribution to www.WildNet.org/support/ Select your payment method and then click on OKAPI on the pull down menu.Thank you for your help.
Tim L. Tetzlaff
Director of Conservation
Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens