Okapi Wildlife Reserve

Okapi Wildlife Reserve

The Okapi Wildlife Reserve occupies about one-fifth of the Ituri forest in the north-east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Congo river basin, of which the reserve and forest are a part, is one of the largest drainage systems in Africa. The reserve contains threatened species of primates and birds and about 5,000 of the estimated 30,000 okapi surviving in the wild. It also has some dramatic scenery, including waterfalls on the Ituri and Epulu rivers. The reserve is inhabited by traditional nomadic pygmy Mbuti and Efe hunters.

Réserve de faune à okapis

La réserve de faune à okapis occupe environ un cinquième de la forêt d'Ituri au nord-est du pays. Le bassin du fleuve Congo, dont la réserve et la forêt font partie, est un des plus grands systèmes de drainage d'Afrique. La réserve de faune abrite des espèces menacées de primates et d'oiseaux et environ 5000 okapis, sur les 30 000 vivant à l'état sauvage. La réserve possède également des sites panoramiques exceptionnels, dont des chutes sur l'Ituri et l'Epulu. Elle est habitée par des populations nomades traditionnelles de Pygmées Mbuti et de chasseurs Efe.

محمية حيوانات الأوكابي

تحتل محمية حيوانات الأوكابي ما يقارب خمس غابة إيتوري شمال شرق البلاد. ويعتبر حوض نهر الكونغو الذي تشكل المحمية والغابة جزءاً منه أحد أكبر أنظمة تصريف المياه في افريقيا. وتحوي محمية الحيوانات اصنافاً مهددة من الرئيسات والطيور ونحو 5000 أوكابي من أصل 30000 أوكابي تعيش في البراري. كما تتضمن شلالات متساقطة على ايتوري وأيبولو  وتحتضن شعوباً رحّلاً تقليدية من أقزام مبوتي وصيادي إيف.  

source: UNESCO/ERI


俄卡皮鹿野生动物保护地占据了位于刚果共和国东北部的伊图里(Ituri)森林五分之一的面积。保护区及其森林属扎伊尔河流域的一部分,而这个流域是非洲最大的排水系统之一。保护区内生存着许多濒危的灵长目类和鸟类动物。目前幸存的野生俄卡皮鹿有30 000头,其中5 000头栖息在这个保护区。区内也有其他壮丽景观,包括伊图里河(Ituri River)和埃普卢河(Epulu River)上的瀑布。这里居住着传统小矮人游牧民族——穆布提族(Mbuti)和埃费族(Efe)的猎人。

source: UNESCO/ERI

Фаунистический резерват Окапи

Фаунистический резерват Окапи занимает примерно одну пятую часть леса Итури на северо-востоке страны. Бассейн реки Конго, на территории которого расположен резерват и обширные леса, является самой крупной речной системой Африки. Резерват населяют птицы и приматы, находящиеся на грани исчезновения. Кроме того здесь обитает около 5000 из живущих на воле в Африке 30000 особей окапи. Здесь же располагаются потрясающие природные красоты, такие как водопады на реках Итури и Эпулу. На территории резервата проживают исконные кочевые охотники пигмейских племен Мбути и Эфе.

source: UNESCO/ERI

Reserva de fauna de Okapis

Situada al nordeste del país, esta reserva abarca la quinta parte del bosque de Ituri, que crece en la cuenca del río Congo, uno de los sistemas de drenaje más importantes del continente africano. Alberga especies de primates y aves en peligro de extinción, así como 5.000 de los 30.000 okapis que viven en estado salvaje. Asimismo, cuenta con parajes de excepcional belleza panorámica como las cataratas de los ríos Ituri y Epulu. La reserva está habitada por dos pueblos pigmeos nómadas: los mbuti y los cazadores efe.

source: UNESCO/ERI


source: NFUAJ

Wildreservaat Okapi

Het wildreservaat Okapi beslaat ongeveer een vijfde van het Ituriwoud in het noordoosten van de Democratische Republiek Congo. Reservaat en bos maken deel uit van het bekken van de Congo rivier, dat een van de grootste drainagesystemen in Afrika heeft. Het wildreservaat is de leefomgeving van 101 soorten (bedreigde) zoogdieren en 376 vogelsoorten. Verder leven er in dit gebied ongeveer 5.000 van de naar schatting 30.000 okapi’s in het wild. Het bevat ook een aantal indrukwekkende landschappen, zoals de watervallen in de Ituri en Epulu rivieren. Het reservaat wordt bewoond door traditionele nomadische pygmee Mbuti en Efe jagers.

Source: unesco.nl

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. © Kim S. Gjerstad
Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

Okapi Wildlife Reserve contains flora of outstanding diversity and provides refuge to numerous endemic and threatened species, including one-sixth of the existing Okapi population. The Reserve protects one-fifth of the Ituri forest, a Pleistocene refuge dominated by dense evergreen « Mbau » and humid semi-evergreen forests, combined with swamp forests that grow alongside the waterways, and clearings called locally « edos » and inselbergs.

Criterion (x): With its bio-geographical location, wealth of biotopes and the presence of numerous species that are rare or absent in the adjacent low altitude forests, it is probable that the Ituri forest served, during earlier drier climatic periods, as refuge for the tropical rainforest. To the north of the Reserve, the granite rocky outcrops, provide refuge to a plant species particularly adapted to this microclimate, characterised by numerous endemic species such as the Giant Cycad (Encepholarcus ituriensis).

The Reserve contains 101 mammal species and 376 species of documented birds. The population of the endemic species of Okapi (Okapia johnstoni), a forest giraffe, is estimated at 5,000 individuals. Among the endemic mammals of the forest in the north-east of the DRC identified in the Reserve, are the aquatic genet (Osbornictis piscivora) and the giant genet (Genetta victoriae). The Reserve provides refuge to 17 species of primates (including 13 diurnal and 4 nocturnal), the highest number for an African forest, including 7,500 chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes).

The Reserve also contains one of the most diverse populations of forest ongulates with 14 species, including six types of cephalophus. It also provides refuge to the largest population of forest elephants ((Loxodonta africana cyclotis) still present in eastern DRC, estimated at 7,500 individuals, and it is important for the conservation of other forest species such as the bongo (Tragelaphus eurycerus), the dwarf antelope (Neotragus batesi), the water chevratain (Hyemoschus aquaticus), the forest buffalo (Syncerus caffer nanus) and the giant forest hog (Hylochoerus meinertzhageni). It is also documented as one of the most important protected areas in Africa for the conservation of birds, with the presence of numerous emblematic species such as the Congo Peafowl (Afropavo congensis), as well as numerous endemic species in eastern DRC.


The forests of the Reserve are among the best preserved in the Congo Basin and its area is considered sufficient to maintain its wildlife. The Reserve is part of a larger forestry area, that of Ituri, which remains almost untouched by logging and agricultural activities.

Protection and management requirements

The property is protected under a Wildlife Reserve statute. The Reserve contains a large indigenous population, the Mbuti and Efe pygmies, and the forest ecosystem is essential for both their economic and cultural requirements. A management plan covering three management areas in the Reserve has been proposed.

This includes a fully protected core zone of 282,000 ha comprising 20% of the Reserve where all hunting is prohibited, and an area of 950,000 ha for traditional use, where self-regulated hunting; using traditional methods; is authorized to cover the basic needs of the human population of the Reserve in forest products. Permanent installations and agricultural clearing are authorized in the 18,000 ha development area that comprises a narrow band on each side of the No. 4 national road crossing through the central part of the Reserve, and along a secondary road that links Mambasa to Mungbere, at the eastern border of the property. There are plans to make the whole protected area a national park. A buffer zone of 50 km wide has been defined around the entire Reserve.

The primary management challenges facing this Reserve are immigration control in the development area, prohibition of agricultural encroachment within the 10 km wide strip located along the road, and ensuring of the involvement of the indigenous populations, Mbuti and Efe pygmies, in the management of the Reserve. Another key challenge concerns the control of commercial poaching and artisanal mining. While the Reserve benefits from support from various NGOs and additional funding, it is imperative to obtain human and logistical resources to ensure the effective management of the property and its buffer zone.

Long Description

The park is located in the north-east of the country in the Ituri Forest. Some 90% of the reserve lies within the Zone of Mambasa in the Ituri subregion, and the remainder within the Zones of Wamba and Watsa in Haut-Uele subregion. The park's northern boundary is the Nepoko River. The Ituri River, a major tributary of the Zaire River, forms part of the southern boundary.

From an elevation of about 600 m in the west, where the rolling plateaux of the Ituri drop onto the central Zaire basin, the forest rises to more than 1,000 m in the east, giving way abruptly to the savannah hills of the Albert Rift. The majority of the reserve is composed of gently rolling forested uplands. The most important geomorphological features are the Zaire drainage system and the mountains of the Albertine rift. The Zaire basin is one of the largest and most important drainage systems in Africa. Other important watercourses include the Lenda, Ngayu and Agamba rivers.

Floral diversity is high, four main forest types occur: swamp forest, mixed forest, Mbau forest and secondary forest. Swamp forest occurs in narrow strips along drainage channels throughout the reserve. Mixed forest typically has a crown height of 30-40 m, and a heterogeneous canopy with frequent emergent trees. Mbau forest tree height is typically 30-40 m with an even, dense canopy. The understorey is open but a subcanopy layer is absent.

There are 52 mammal species including endemic okapi. It has very localized distribution and the Ituri Forest is one of the major areas supporting okapi populations. Other species include the endemic water chevrotain, African golden cat, leopard, giant ground pangolin, giant forest genet, anubis baboon, bush pig, pygmy antelope and giant forest hog.

The Ituri Forest has one of the highest numbers of duiker species in Africa; 13 primate species have been observed, the largest number known for an African forest. Also present are Zaire clawless otter, brush-tailed porcupine, bongo antelope, Sitatunga antelope, black-legged mongoose, black mongoose and marsh mongoose. Two crocodiles are found, the African slender-snouted crocodile and the African dwarf crocodile.

The site has 329 bird species including spot-breasted ibis, olive ibis, long-tailed hawk, Nahan's francolin, black guineafowl, sandy scops owl, Nkulengu rail, Bate's nightjar, black spinetail, bare-cheeked trogon, Bedford's paradise flycatcher, black-collared lovebird, lyre-tailed honeyguide, endemic yellow-legged weaver and the endemic golden-naped weaver.

Hunter-gatherers and shifting cultivators have occupied the Ituri Forest for centuries. The ancestries of present forest peoples can be traced back to both Sudanic and Bantu migrations as well as to more pygmoid stocks. The Pygmy groups that today inhabit the Ituri forest include the Efe and Mbuti. They excel in the use and identification of wild plants. Pygmies have a semi-nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle and when not hunting with traditional nets or archery, gather insects, fungi, fruits, seeds, plants and honey. They depend on wild game and fish to supplement dietary protein requirements.

Most of the agrarians in the Ituri region are Bantu, the country's dominant ethnic group that includes Lese, Mamvu, Bira, Ndaka and Budu. Long-standing economic and cultural ties exist between pygmies and traditional forest agriculturalists, with the pygmies depending on exchanges to acquire cultivated starch foods to supplement a forest diet rich in protein.

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