While Ashley was just starting to negotiate the Lomami River to the south of Kisangani, two exploration teams (simlar to Ashley’s teams) finished their two-week inventories in the Rubi Tele Reserve to the north of Kisangani.
We knew there were diamonds north of Kisangani and I was not surprised to find that up the road to Buta there were many small-time miners digging and wading in the forests and rivers searching for the brilliant stones, looking for a brilliant exit from poverty. BUT we have learned two new things:
- North of Kisangani, in the Rubi Tele Reserve, Dino and his teams found that the wildlife has been plundered to feed the miners on the diamond frontier. More about that below.
- South of Kisangani, Ashley has found that there are diamond miners. We don’t yet know how far they have gone into the forest or south of Opala. Ashley will find out and post that later.
After finishing the inventory of the Rubi Tele Reserve, Dino sent the following news from the one and only Cyber Café in Buta with its second hand antique Dells:
We will work up our data during the next week but already we can tell you that the animals in Rubi Tele Reserve are under threat, particularly on the west side of the road. The good news is that deep in the forest on the east side of the road we still found signs of forest elephant, okapi, forest hogs and chimpanzees. On some of our transects there were even 11-12 chimpanzee nest groups!
Unfortunately, other monkeys are very threatened everywhere and shotgun shells litter the forest floor. The hunting is heaviest around each of the camps at diamond mining operations. Bows and arrows, spears and various guns including AKs from the rebellion are used. Hunters even go out with lamps and shotguns at night to paralyze their game in the bright light, then shoot them.
Rubi-Tele pangolin caught and killed in snare trap
Now we are looking for gasoline so that the little hotel where we are staying in Buta will be able to run the generator and we can work on our computers to enter data. We will be in touch again very soon.