Ashley and I took off by motorcycle heading east from Kisangani and John came from the west with two experts in GIS and mapping. The team leaders were already at Epulu. The training has lasted two weeks…in fact it will not be over until tomorrow (this is posted from the Ituri Forest)
A second merchant is pushing his bike up the hill in the background
On the way from Kisangani Ashley and I saw the new Congo. Road repair to Epulu is more than 80% completed. There is one stretch of about 80 km that remains impossible for big trucks. This stretch keeps the bicycle merchants (batoleka) in business. But it is a disappearing profession.
Always a delight to take a “family photo” in front of the Epulu — John, Ashley and me
For John and me it was a thrill to gather again by the Epulu river – it has been the home of our hearts for years. And it was wonderful for all of us to see the rapid progress on TL2, not only in sharing and analyzing what has already been learned about TL2 but also in discussing what needs to be done next.
The trainees concentrating intently, each on his own project
With unexpected primates in unprecedented areas throughout the TL2 landscape, the ability of everyone in the field to identify monkeys from their cries and partial views is essential. A stint in the forest camp of Afarama (Okapi Reserve) was an important test run as there are 13 different species of monkey in this part of the Ituri forest.
Maria and Nick our two cartographic/GIS trainers on a primate transect. Nick is meticulously mapping the hydrology of TL2 to avoid more waterless days on the circuits. Maria is helping us see, through maps, the progress we have made
One of our goals is to map primate distributions. But the first critical step is ferreting out the new primate forms that are apparently up the Lomami
Dino a team leader helping perfect the field methods for primate transects
That requires an ability for quick accurate identification and documentation and that comes from practice, patience and determination …
Back at Afarama, one of the Okapi Reserve’s field camps, going over transect field notes
There is an urgency to all this effort at learning basic natural history. The urgency is Hunting. To our amazement hunting has reached into the most remote areas and spares neither primate in the trees nor antelope on the ground.
John going over field notes with team leaders at Afarama. Faustin and Bernard considering…
Where MUST HUNTING it be controlled? We need to know and map the most critical areas and then push for their protection.
A freshly killed owl-faced monkey being held by a hunter in the Ituri Forest.©Copyright_Reto Kuster. This is one of the unexpected monkeys we have found south of Opala in TL2. It was only known to exist 150 km and two giant rivers further east.