Notorious Leader Captured Rare Okapi Killed in the Attack
August 7, 2012
Notorious Leader Captured
Okapi Killed in the Attack
U.N. Radio Okapi says Congo's army has captured a militia leader and 16 of his combatants accused of killing okapis in the country's northeast, as a national park reports the first mountain gorilla sightings in months.
The station said Saturday that Paul Sadala, whose alias is Morgan, was captured three days prior after leading his militia in a June attack on the Okapi Wildlife Reserve that killed two park rangers and 15 okapi.
On June 24, a group of armed rebels attacked the headquarters of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve, situated in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo, killing seven park staff and their family members. Others were taken hostage or are unaccounted for. The entire Reserve infrastructure was destroyed and the 15 okapi of the Epulu Breeding and Research Station were all killed. Epulu plays a central role in protecting the future of the okapi by serving as a reservoir for the infusion of new genetic stock into okapi populations in global conservation programmes.
Poachers Destroy People, Animals and Property
The Reserve, inscribed on the list of World Heritage in Danger since 1997, is home to about 5,000 okapi, the rare giraffe-like forest creature, as well as significant populations of leopard, elephant, chimpanzee and crocodile. Its bird life makes it one of the most important sites for bird conservation in mainland Africa and nomadic Mbuti pygmies life within the Reserve.
The future activities of the Okapi Conservation Project will be in accordance with the security situation in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve. At this point we are focused on helping people displaced by the turmoil, supporting The Congolese Wildlife Authority's, (ICCN) anti-poaching efforts, assisting communities around the Reserve and cleaning up the Station.
John Lukas has been active in international conservation for over twenty-five years. He founded the Okapi Conservation Project in 1987. He is also a co-founder and serves as a Board Member of the Wildlife Conservation Network. His expansive experience with wildlife includes directorship of the White Oak Conservation Center in Yulee, Florida, a world premier facility for wildlife breeding and research on endangered species.