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Protect the World’s Last Okapis from Gold Mining

animal petition save the okapis

The okapi, a rare and enigmatic relative of the giraffe, is facing an existential threat. With only 30,000 individuals remaining on our planet, their habitat in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is steadily shrinking due to human encroachment. The Okapi Wildlife Reserve, a 670,000-hectare expanse of pristine rainforest, is home to 5,000 of these gentle giants, along with chimpanzees, 376 bird species, and countless other rare and endangered flora and fauna.

Despite its status as a World Heritage Site, the reserve is under relentless assault from illegal gold mining operations. Rampant mining activities are destroying forests, polluting waterways with toxic chemicals like mercury, and disrupting the delicate ecosystems that sustain this incredible biodiversity. The mines are attracting outsiders in search of livelihood, leading to a surge in bushmeat hunting and further threatening the survival of the okapi and other wildlife.

At the center of this crisis is Kimia Mining, a Chinese company based in Bunia, Ituri, that has obtained illegitimate permits from the ministry of mines and is operating at a semi-industrial level within the reserve. Alarmingly, a UN report has implicated high-ranking officers of Congo's army, FARDC, in these illegal mining activities, while government officials turn a blind eye as a considerable amount of the gold is smuggled across the border to Uganda. This mining is inextricably linked to conflict and violence in eastern DRC.

The DRC, a country with one of the highest levels of biodiversity on Earth, has a unique responsibility to protect its forests, not only for the sake of its precious wildlife but also in the global fight against the climate crisis. Protecting the DRC's nature is not only a moral imperative but also a legal one, as the mining activities violate environmental laws and the mining code that prohibits activities harmful to nature. Furthermore, the right and duty of every Congolese citizen to protect the environment is enshrined in Article 53 of the constitution.

We call on President Tshisekedi and his government to uphold their legal and ethical obligations by enforcing existing laws and putting an immediate end to mining in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve and other protected areas. The survival of the okapi, and the preservation of the DRC's invaluable natural heritage, depends on decisive action.

Join us in demanding that the DRC government prioritize the protection of its irreplaceable biodiversity over short-term economic gains. Sign this petition and raise your voice for the okapi, its rainforest home, and the countless species that depend on it.

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