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The Okapi Faunal Reserve is a huge tract of moist semi-evergreen lowland forest, with swamp-forest and, along roads, secondary forest, in north-eastern DR Congo. Part of the large Ituri Forest, Okapi lies between approximately 1°N in the south, 28°E in the west, the Nepoko river in the north, and the Mambassa–Andudu road in the east. The Ituri and the Epulu are the main rivers. The terrain is gently undulating with some higher hills in the north. Dominant tree species include Cynometra alexandri, Julbernardia seretii and Gilbertiodendron dewevrei. There are areas in which G. dewevrei occurs as monodominant stands, but the other forest-types are noted for their richness. The site is one of the largest tracts of intact forest remaining on the rim of the Congo basin. The forest is important as the home of the hunter-gatherer Mbuti and Efé pygmies. They live in association with indigenous Bantu and Sudanic-speaking shifting cultivators. Human population densities in the region are low and people are mostly concentrated along the few existing roads. A major part of the forest is free of permanent settlements. Rainfall averages between 1,650 mm and 1,750 mm per year.
See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. The rare Ploceus flavipes and P. aureonucha occur; the former is known only from the Ituri forest and all recent sightings are from the reserve, the latter has been recorded from one other site only. It is probable that Afropavo congensis occurs. The monodominant Gilbertiodendron forest appears to be important habitat for Zoothera thrushes, in which at least three species occur. In addition, three species of the Afrotropical Highlands biome have been recorded (see Table 3).
Non-bird biodiversity: The reserve contains the largest population in existence of the endemic Okapia johnstoni (LR/nt) (estimated at 3,900–6,350 animals in 1996) and one of the largest of forest elephant Loxodonta africana cyclotis (EN) (4,750–10,100 animals). Other mammals of global conservation concern include Hyemoschus aquaticus (DD), Osbornictis piscivora (DD) and Tragelaphus euryceros (LR/nt). Of particular interest is the presence of 13 species of primate, amongst which are Pan troglodytes (EN) (7,500–12,000 individuals), Cercopithecus hamlyni (LR/nt) and C. l’hoesti (LR/nt), which constitutes one of the richest assemblages recorded from any African forest. The site is also particularly rich in butterfly species.
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Okapi Faunal Reserve. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 23/10/2021.