Two Down for the Lomami

And gone their guns and ammunition…

The forests are quieter, the forests are safer and that is thanks to a massive united effort including collaboration from the village of Obenge all the way to the top military, hundreds of km further north in Kisangani.

And none too soon. We had gotten One Maimai Down but there was One Central Pin left behind.
Major Ranger and his pregnant wife not sure what will happen to her now
Major Ranger, wearing his hallmark “99” t-shirt, in the central Obenge baraza where he was arrested.

Ashley left Obenge in December fearing the worst. And the reports that we received back from Lambert, who was planting and tending the gardens, were not good. From December ’07 through February ’08 Major Ranger and his boys were responsible for the killing of fourteen elephants and two bonobos. At least that is how many we know about; we fear the Obenge forests may well have lost more.

True to his word, General Kifwa in Kisangani acted.
One of his men, Major John, wearing plain clothes, accompanied Crispin of TL2 to Obenge in order to verify the presence of illegal military arms and terrorism of the population. With the report from his own man, the general sent Major John back with 70 military to clean up the territory of Opala.
Major John (red berret hand on hips) in the earl;y morning fog lining up his troops
Seventy troops were chosen in Kisangani. Major John in the red beret with hands on hips.

Fourteen from this unit, including Major John himself, continued to Obenge to apprehend Ranger. Ashley arrived to find them already present.
TL2 and the military here in Obenge
Major John, I presume?

This was Ashley’s assessment:
“ Major John has done really well down here including good control of his troops.
No one in Opala or Obenge has any problems with him or his soldiers and he
has got rid of quite a few undesirables that were big time hunters and their guns.”

Some women preparing pondu for the military in Obenge in TL2s kitchen
A group of Obenge women assured that the military were well fed. They too benefited from the TL2 gardens.

The whole village joined in to help Major John’s unit find the various military weapons hidden in the surrounding forest.
Mama chef (of Obenge) with Major John on her left and the other military
The chefitaine or woman village chief with Major John (arms crossed) and some of his unit in Obenge

A total of 10 Kalachnikovs were removed from the village. Another 11 military arms, included two FAL along with the usual AK-47s, were taken from the same inter-connected band of poachers in Opala.

As the military point out public enemy number one is captured and will not be a threat anymore along with Kihindo (TL2) confirming this
A last photo opportunity for a few members of the unit and Kahindo (TL2) before Ranger is taken off to Opala and then to Kisangani.

We hope that this is the end for a while of the worst high-end elephant poaching up the Lomami.

Ashley saw them off:
“The pirogue left this morning for Opala with the military and Major
Ranger. So it is goodbye to him forever.
The village is understandably very happy.”

And so is the forest…….

15 Comments

  1. Posted 2008-03-20 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    Wow! This is thrilling news! Nice work, all, very nice work. Thank you so much for your persistence in removing Major Ranger from the TL2.

    s.

  2. Posted 2008-03-20 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    Wow.

    After what is going in the Virungas, this is truly a positive effort. Thx for all the pics, it’s so rare to get good photo reportage from the field.

    One less thorn. Many more challenges to come.

  3. Terese Hart
    Posted 2008-03-20 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    Yep many more challenges to come — but we are thrilled that Ranger is gone and equally thrilled by the incredible collaboration from so many to get him out. Remarkable really!

  4. Wanda, Atlanta
    Posted 2008-03-20 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    He stuck to his word — he did what he said he would do Ashley – I am just overwhelmed!

  5. Posted 2008-03-20 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    Yes Terese, this is what we should all focus on, this collaboration between the government, the local people and you guys, the conservationists! I know it is nearly impossible to send mail to the DRC, but I would love to convey my gratitude and thanks to Major John, and his men for all they have ACHIEVED!

  6. colleen
    Posted 2008-03-21 at 5:19 am | Permalink

    I will be going to DRC in about four weeks and would be more than happy to bring anything that anyone would like to send from the states – or take requests of what is needed from the DRC. This post is very exciting – hopeful – congratulations for all your work…

  7. Posted 2008-03-21 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Colleen, please email me asap. [email protected]

  8. Terese Hart
    Posted 2008-03-21 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    And Theresa, many thanks for the monthly contribution. It gives us something that we can count on regularly and that really makes a difference in the bottom line and in morale.

  9. Posted 2008-03-22 at 12:02 am | Permalink

    Thanks Terese, I only wish it could be more…

  10. Posted 2008-03-24 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    I’m digging deep, but here is a liitle something extra on the way, to brighten your day!

  11. Terese Hart
    Posted 2008-03-26 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    My day is very much brightened, Theresa. Thank you from me (right now in Kinshasa), thank you from John (right moving upstream in dugout towards Obenge) and thank your from Ashley, right now setting up our new primate study site where they have ALREADY seen an unknown monkey that Ashley had seen in captivity in Opala and had been told came from this part of forest — Thanks for helping to keep them in the field!!

  12. Posted 2008-03-27 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    I came across this articlve from the Mail Guardian on the devastating impact of coltan mining on everything from the people to the wildlife and wondered what your thoughts were on this:
    http://www.thoughtleader.co.za/khadijasharife/2008/02/29/mapping-motives-the-%E2%80%98discovery%E2%80%99-of-coltan-genocide-and-the-expansionist-ideology/

  13. Terese Hart
    Posted 2008-03-28 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Dipesh, What is true is that this country has great mineral wealth that has not brought it peace or prosperity. Look at the NYTimes magazine from before 9/11. I think it was in August. During the period of high coltan prices (2000,2001 I believe) mining camps appeared everyone incuding inside of the Okapi Reserve. It added nothing to local development, local people ended up with debts! most miners were totally impoverished. The wealth was a couple steps up the chain and the coltan was exported to Uganda and Rwanda. Coltan price fell but the same regions produce gold, cassiterite and more.

  14. Posted 2008-03-30 at 5:23 am | Permalink

    Thanks Terese. I just feel that most people around the world have no real idea (including myself) about the true cost of our comforts and “necessities”. The Virunga Youth Alliance have put an intersting post about this issue.

  15. Lee Ruegge
    Posted 2008-04-02 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

    I am not suprised over this killing of animals. This problem you are having makes me sick.. All over the world we have animal cruelty, you have men that go out and have no mercy for animals or life. Major Ranger should have been shot at sundown, than move his family yes!!! uproot his family and move them out. Now lets see how confortable they will be. Punishment is not harsh enough. We need to set an example. No more light treatment, show others how it is and how its going to be. I belong to Peta and animals of all sizes were put on this earth to enjoy and we are to enjoy them. I wish I was young enough to help with all the animals I would. I pray that the people who harm or kill all animals are punished at one time or another. Thanks for listening . Lee

7 Trackbacks

  1. […] tusks might be white gold, but they are also contraband and associated with the most unscrupulous of poachers. Obenge’s Chef de Village said, “Take them to Opala”. In Opala the authorities said, “Take […]

  2. […] number of revelations became public : three members of Major Ranger’s and Colonel Thoms’s gang were identified as still being in Obenge. […]

  3. […] The bishop visited Obenge. Crispin passed his boat when he was heading downstream towards Opala. Crispin was returning the Civil Society representatives and picking up Major John who promised to clean out the last Major Ranger’s gang, those who had been off in the forest on his last “clean-up” mission. […]

  4. […] through June (and coffee and chocolate to John). At the Lobaye River crossing we met some of Major John’s men patrolling bicycle packs to keep munitions from traveling south where they could be used for […]

  5. […] and the illicit activities by which they live. Her examples were Colonel Thoms and Major Ranger, the two Maimai that recently “ruled” this little village. We toured Obenge together and she questioned many of […]

  6. […] The bishop visited Obenge. Crispin passed his boat when he was heading downstream towards Opala. Crispin was returning the Civil Society representatives and picking up Major John who promised to clean out the last of Major Ranger’s gang, those who had been off in the forest on his last “clean-up” mission. […]

  7. […] Crispin and Maga burst into our studious scene.  “Major Ranger has escaped.”  He escaped with one other person, Kipeleka,  from the Kisangani […]

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