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Zoo News Blog

Pen Pals to Save Okapis: Conservation in the Ituri Forest

Written by Mary Fields


Last time we were in contact with our pen pal, Jean Paul, he told us all about what he does to help okapis in the wild. This time, he told us about the Okapi Wildlife Reserve and how it helps with conservation!

So what is the Okapi Wildlife Reserve? It is a world heritage site located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that helps protect the Ituri Forest and its inhabitants. The Ituri Forest is one of the last reservoirs for biodiversity in Africa and a refuge for okapis, chimpanzees and forest elephants.

It is not just plants and animals that the OWR helps preserve; they help preserve the lifestyle of the indigenous people living in the forest. The Ituri Forest is home to the hunter-gatherer and deep forest-dwelling Mbuti and Efe pygmies.

The OWR focuses on working with the communities within and surrounding its boundaries. They provide zones for hunting, agriculture and full conservation. They also provide outreach programs for the public, schools and the government to help educate them on the importance of conservation and the reserve.

So how can you help okapis in the wild? By recycling your cell phones and electronics! You can recycle your cell phones at the Houston Zoo’s entrance and the African Forest. Make sure to follow our blog to continue learning about okapi conservation and hear more from Jean Paul!