BUT SO MUCH FARTHER TO GO!
Does someone in this photo look familiar?
He is also in the photo below. Big time elephant poacher, Colonel Tom (or Thomps) has a new – temporary? – persona. A small group of military were sent up the Lomami to bring the Colonel out of the forest. They did…in probably the only way possible : very civilly (He walked across the forest with an escort, but of his own “free will”). We are told he will soon be sent to military retraining camp many miles away. Hope so.
May he never reign in his forest camps again
Does this mean that the remaining Lomami elephants are safe now that the principal elephant poacher is out of the forest.
Safer, that is for sure , BUT the threats have not evaporated:
Ashley who is now in Obenge, a village well up the Lomami, says this:
“Colonel Thomps took 300 kgs of ivory out of Obenge just before he left the forest”
And Ashley adds that Colonel Thomps left his Major (maimai) and his Major is now in Obenge and has guns:
“…he is planning on going back into the forest in about 3 days to hunt more elephant…”
Being on the ground and in the forest makes a difference. John is now west of Ubundu, Ashley at Obenge, Bernard on the upper Tshuapa, Dino and Faustin east of Opala, and Maurice north of Katopa. Each of these is a team leader and working at the head of a group. There are also two full time community conservationists, Lambert and Crispan, on the ground based out of Obenge.
This is the TL2 project. We work from the ground up.
One of the new agricultural plots TL2 is helping to establish in Obenge — there will be 150
It is possible to start from the top and work down as well. With only token field work ahead of time, it is still possible to have a Protected Area Proclaimed. Has it protected the right area? will the village populations really accept it? does it have the international support it needs? will the government really follow through with Reserve infrastructure?
This is the situation of Sankuru Nature Reserve, a neighbor and overlapping the TL2 landscape. We make an interesting comparison of conservation approaches. May we both succeed.