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, 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.
Seventy troops were chosen in Kisangani. Major John in the red beret with hands on hips.
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.”
The whole village joined in to help Major John’s unit find the various military weapons hidden in the surrounding forest.
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.
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…….