The Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo-Kinshasa) in central Africa is one of our homeschool countries-of-the-week, so why not spend a few minutes today learning about one of the Congo’s World Heritage Sites: the Okapi Wildlife Reserve.
The “forest giraffe” or Okapi is only one of the many distinctive species of wildlife protected in the Congo’s Okapi Wildlife Reserve:
“The Okapi Wildlife Reserve occupies about one-fifth of the Ituri forest in the north-east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Congo river basin, of which the reserve and forest are a part, is one of the largest drainage systems in Africa. The reserve contains threatened species of primates and birds and about 5,000 of the estimated 30,000 Okapi surviving in the wild. It also has some dramatic scenery, including waterfalls on the Ituri and Epulu rivers. The reserve is inhabited by traditional nomadic pygmy Mbuti and Efe hunters….
With its biogeographical location, wealth of biotopes, and the presence of numerous species that are rare or absent in the adjacent low altitude forests, it is probable that the Ituri forest served, during earlier drier climatic periods, as refuge for the tropical rainforest. To the north of the Reserve, the granite rocky outcrops, provide refuge to plant species particularly adapted to this microclimate, characterised by numerous endemic species such as the Giant Cycad (Encepholarcus ituriensis).
The Reserve contains 101 mammal species and 376 species of documented birds. The population of the endemic species of Okapi (Okapia johnstoni), a forest giraffe, is estimated at 5,000 individuals. Among the endemic mammals of the forest in the north-east of the DRC identified in the Reserve, are the aquatic genet (Osbornictis piscivora) and the giant genet (Genetta victoriae). The Reserve provides refuge to 17 species of primates (including 13 diurnal and 4 nocturnal), the highest number for an African forest, including 7,500 chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes).“ (UNESCO World Heritage Centre #718)
You can find a gallery of additional photos of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve on the World Heritage Centre’s website.
World Heritage Sites are cultural or natural landmarks of international significance, selected for recognition by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. More than 1000 such sites have been recognized in over 160 countries, and we feature one every Wednesday, drawn from one of our homeschool countries-of-the-week. You can find a complete list online at the UNESCO World Heritage Centre and in Wikipedia.
The World Heritage Centre also has a free and comprehensive World Heritage education kit for teachers, as well as a wonderful full-color wall map of World Heritage Sites (riverhouses.org/2020-wh-map), available for the cost of shipping. Why not add them both to your own homeschool library. 🗺
What world treasures are you exploring in your homeschool this Cygnus Term? 😊
❡ Books in the running brooks: You can always turn to your River Houses almanac, atlas, and history encyclopedia (riverhouses.org/books) for more information about any of our countries-of-the-week. The almanac has profiles of all the nations of the world on pages 745–852; the endpapers of the atlas are indexes that will show you where all of the individual national and regional maps may be found; the history encyclopedia includes national histories on pages 489–599; and you can find additional illustrations, flags, and other mentions through the indexes in each of these volumes. For an ideal little lesson, just write the name of the Weekly World Heritage Site on your homeschool bulletin board, find its location in your atlas, read the WHC’s brief description aloud, look at a picture or two, and you’re done. Over the course of the year, without even realizing it, your students will absorb a wealth of new historical, geographical, and cultural information. 🇨🇩
❡ The great globe itself: This is one of our regular Homeschool States & Countries posts featuring historical and natural sites of international importance. Download a copy of our River Houses World Heritage Calendar (riverhouses.org/calendars) and follow along with us as we tour the planet, and add your name to our weekly mailing list (riverhouses.org/newsletter) to get great homeschool teaching ideas delivered right to your mailbox all through the year. 🌍