With 13,720 km², the Okapi Wildlife Reserve has rich biodiversity and a forest ecosystem with cultural and economic importance for the traditional nomadic pygmy hunters Mbuti and Efe who it is believed, have been inhabiting these forests for 40,000 years.
Although, the reserve is strongly protected, it has faced, in particular along its western boundary, rapidly escalating threats caused by insecurity, poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking that are aggravated by an illegal mining economy involving armed groups and clandestine actors.
The Okapi Wildlife Reserve was inscribed on the World Heritage list in 1996 and the World Heritage List in Danger since 1997.
Located in the northeast of the DRC, 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 one-sixth of the okapi populations living in the wild. The okapi is endemic to the DRC and is a species protected by national laws.
In line with Decision 43 COM 7A.9 adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 43rd session (Baku, 2019), the main outputs of this project are as follows:
Facilitate the demarcation of the western boundaries of the property to resolve conflicts related to the use of natural resources;
Improve the efficiency of the management of the property by contributing to the empowerment of communities and ensuring their involvement in management and development activities.
Sustainable development goals (SDGs) addressed by the project: 11.4 and 15.1
Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN)
This project is made possible thanks to the financial support of the Norwegian government.
The World Heritage Committee,