What does a conservation wildlife program have to do with improving access to education? Preserving endangered species and protecting wildlife programs generates money in communities, which reduces poverty and improves living conditions. Better management of wildlife resources also encourages sustainable land-use planning. The flow on effect is a stronger economy and the development of future resource security in these communities.
The objective of this program in collaboration with DRCongo partners is to reclassify the Epi Hunting Reserve and establish a wildlife conservation program.
Currently the Epi forest is identified as a hunting reserve and is owned in common by the local communities in Kembisa Sector, which includes Epi, Mamili and Amadi. It also borders on the sector of Abarambo and the Madi and Mabanga chiefdoms. The reserve is approximately 9,000 – 15,000 Km2. Around 30 years ago trophy hunting was conducted in this reserve for a number of years by two local entrepreneurs running a Safari company Uéré-Safari, which brought international hunters to the area to specifically hunt the rare Bongo Antelope. The Bongo is classified as: Lower Risk/ Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) – Red List of Threatened Species.
The Epi Reserve has been abandoned for approximately 15 years and during this period we know the area is threatened by:
- Poaching, local and international;
- Illegal fishing;
- Fragmentation of habitats for emblematic protected species;
- Armed groups.
In addition the Epi Reserve is strategically placed between two other reserves Bili-Uéré to the north and Rubi-Tele to the south, which provides a corridor to support large animals to pass from north to south.
To launch this program a historic meeting was held on August 24/25 2020 between the local Chiefs and leaders of the area, his Excellency the Provincial Minister of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Sustainable Development of Bas-Uélé, Mr Floribert INGA BEBU; Principle of the l’Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN) and Chief Curator Bili- Uéré Reserve, Mr Romain DYANDOGHERE; Administrator of Poko Terrority, Mr Kambili SEBE Jr; and DRCongo RainShine Administrator, Abbé Jean de dieu MIMBUGBE. The outcome of the meeting was the signing of a Free Informed Act of Consent outling a framework for future co-operation for this program.
We are now in the detailed planning phase for this program, with a view to conduct a wildlife survey of the reserve by the end of 2021. We are seeking partners to join with us on this program.