The NGOs blamed a Chinese company called Kimia Mining, which has previously been accused of flouting a ban on river-dredging in Ituri province and other mining regulations, according to a 2016 report by a UN Group of Experts.

There was no available contact information to reach Kimia Mining for comment.

The authorities have vowed to clean up their management and protection of Congo’s forests, where illegal activities have long flourished due to corruption and the logistical challenge of enforcing weak regulations in remote and often conflict-hit areas.

Human disturbances link to conflicts, mining and hunting are among the main threats to okapi, of which fewer than 50,000 are estimated to remain in the wild, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

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.

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