This note is from Terese. Ashley is closing down our little depot in Kisangani where we have stored all of our tents, outboards, cooking pots, and remaining fuel. He’ll follow me today to Kinshasa.
This past week in Kisangani was very successful, but that is not what I am going to write about here. Next post.
Here I want to underline the urgency that Ashley and I both feel about this “forgotten landscape” to the south of Kisangani.
Obenge, little village four days by motorized dugout south of Opala (about 300 river km), is THE hunting outpost for two big, bustling commercial centers : both Kisangani, much farther to the north, and Kindu to the southeast. Although they seem on the map to be a mere 200 to 300 km away, this is by winding river and forever meandering footpath.
Neither Ashley nor I is opposed to locally controlled hunting of small antelope, even primates, but that is not what is being staged from Obenge. Hunting with weapons of war and hunting that targets rare species such as the rapidly disappearing forest elephant and the endemic bonobo, our closest animal relative, is something else. Bonobo live ONLY in the forests south and west of the Congo/Lualaba River, they are social, curious, communicative and vulnerable.
Ashley did not send me the two pictures below of a freshly killed pregnant bonobo. He found them too depressing, but I did appreciate seeing them. It helps me understand what we are up against. And for that reason, I am posting them.
I want to emphasize that there is no sadism in the hunting of these animals. Greed of the few that really profit – yes. But these few are not the ones who handle the guns and “own” the forest. What is needed: community outreach, information and alternative sources of income.
We will keep you posted.