Congolese NGOs decry mining in main okapi refuge

"Illegal gold-mining is destroying tracts of pristine rainforest in Congo’s Okapi Wildlife Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site meant to be a haven for the endangered mammal nicknamed Africa’s unicorn, environmental organisations warned on Tuesday.

Industrial activities are supposed to be banned in the 13,000 square kilometers of the reserve in northeast Democratic Republic of Congo. Aerial photo evidence shows mining has persisted, the civil society groups said at a joint news conference to mark the international day of the okapi.

Also known as zebra giraffes due to their zebra striped hindquarters and longish necks, okapis were placed on the IUCN’s Red List of species at risk of extinction in 2015.

Congo is currently at loggerheads with conservationists and scientists over its plan to open other parts of its rainforest and peatlands to oil and gas drilling."