The Little Rock Zoo

.The Little Rock Zoo needs to step up and care for the animals better! Please read the several artciles here with deaths, sickness and a bald chimp!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Searching For Bonobo in Congo

In early 2007 the first exploratory mission was launched up the

Lomami. One very large dug-out took off from Kisangani full of

barrels of fuel, bags of rice, bags of beans, packs of salt fish, cans

of sardines , a bottle or two of Johny Walker-red and a crew of men.

All of these men had had experience in animal inventories in Congo’s

forests, but none of them had worked here, in the center of the Congo.

the information we started with
The roadless, unexplored forest between the Tshuapa,

Lomami and Lualaba Rivers was clear on satellite images.

I was in the west, in Kinshasa covering on the administrative/

diplomatic aspects of the trip. John was in the east, finishing

up an animal inventory in the Ituri forest. Ashley, who had

earlier worked with John on surveys in the Salonga Forest

accepted the rather daunting task of leading the first mission

into a truly unknown forest.

Ashley on an inventory circuit
Ashley on one of the first exploratory circuits.

Just a little damp.

In two months Ashley made it all the way to the first falls on

the Lomami River, nearly 1000 river km (620 miles) south

along the Lomami River. His teams had made survey circuits

into the forest on the east and west bank, often trekking with

only sardines, beans and fufu as rations for two weeks or more.

setting camp at night
Setting camp at night.
the beans aren't cooked until long after camp is set
The beans often were not adequately cooked until well

after camp was set.

By the second mission John was full time on the TL2 challenge

and I expanded diplomatic efforts to Kisangani.

looking over results in the dugout
In the dugout, John looks over results of a circuit with team

leader, Maurice.

The diplomacy became far more complicated than anticipated as

we were accused by some of being diamond prospectors and by

others of being mercenary/rebels. Why else would anyone

venture up the Lomami River?

Ranger, a Maimai Major with his ivory
Major Ranger was a Maimai rebel up the Lomami River with

whom we had to negotiate our terms of co-existance carefully.

He is center, Maga of TL2 on the right. He was an elephant

poacher and killer of bonobo, but finally jailed for large-scale rape.

By early in 2008 we had two field bases, one at Obenge and one at Katopa .

big dugout docked at our Katopa camp along the Lomami
Our large dugout, docked in front of our camp Katopa at

the south end of the TL2 area on the Lomami River.

The original area slated for inventory covered 50,000 km²

(19,300 mi²). Our first estimation of important forest had

included all that seemed unbroken – virgin – on satellite

maps. On the ground, however, it rapidly became clear that

much of this forest was empty. Although there were no

settlements, the forest had been hunted to exhaustion,

all large mammals were gone including totally protected,

bonobo, okapi and forest elephant. Hunting camps and

signs of hunting were everywhere. Bushmeat merchants

were along every path and road hauling their wares to market.

mother, young and gun
The beginning of the bushmeat chain. Black mangabey
mother, baby and 12-gauge that killed them.

baby black mangabey helps stop tears
This baby black mangabey survived the killing of its
Mom to become a local pet until it dies.

Source and Finale

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