Money and Collaboration, Essential to Keep the Teams in the Field

Monumental trips need team work. The exploration up the Lomami River, through the heart of the Congo, is monumental. Ashley is in a giant dugout and with a well-seasoned Congolese team, but none have been up the Lomami.

Ashley, himself, has been seasoned by the spicey, somewhat dicey, wilds of the Salonga National Park, where he did his first forest/bonobo inventory – enough to teach him that team work is essential. In fact there are three basic parts to this TL2 (Tshuapa-Lomami-Lualaba) exploration team:

  1. Field – for now that is only Ashley and his crew
  2. Congolese logistics and support – that’s me and an irreplaceably good-spirited young Congolese woman (also secretary and gofer)
  3. Financial and administrative backbone – this is essential – up to the present we rely on three foundations that hold us up like a three-legged stool.

A trip into unknown wilderness where there are no villages, almost no written history, and no trade requires preparation. There is the obvious like taking a truly comprehensive first aid kit and all the fuel you need to get the 35 horsepower motor all the way upstream and enough to assure your rapid return.

But most striking in almost every letter Ashley sends back from the field are the unforeseen costs: the rent for the temporary base in Kisangani, the gifts to the village elders in Opala, the high prices caused by the “underground” wealth from the diamond mines, etc etc.

Two foundations have given us the possibility to push ahead. Friends at the Abraham Foundation introduced us to the Arcus Foundation and suggested we write a proposal. Nancy Abraham said that she would supply matching funds if Arcus would provide the basic funding for the proposal.

What better inspiration could there be? I spent a month researching and writing a complete proposal with enthusiastic support from the would-be field team.

Arcus Foundation fully funded the part of the proposal we hoped they would fund. They committed to 300,000 USD over three years. And Abraham provided the match, another 100,000 dollars. Altogether, and in one step, we had half of the entire funding we needed for the first two years. A single year — at full activity – costs between 350,000 and 400,000 USD.

A small NGO (Lukuru) stepped forward and offered us an administrative home from which to launch the project. Lukuru is dedicated to conservation in the south-western part of bonobo range and provides much more of a home than the word “administrative” conjures up. These are our colleagues, field mates, and among the un-dauntable.

So field work could begin… and obviously has.



  1. Posted 2007-06-19 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Who is the “good spirited woman”???

  2. Simona
    Posted 2007-06-19 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    Hi guys.. this is pretty wild actually blogging from such an isolated part of the world. I am curious – what made you choose the Lomami specifically? Is it because of the Bonobos? Is it because Congo has some of the last wild places on the planet? Thanks.. an d keep it all coming. I shan’t compare you to Henry Morten Stanley Ashley, but I can’t help feeling quite excited at reading all this. Simona

  3. Terese Hart
    Posted 2007-06-19 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    The Lomami has been intriguing us for years. Big international conservation NGOs have worked in the big parks mainly in eastern Congo(and they are needed there!) but war, and a completely deteriorated infrastructure have kept people out of the unknown interior.
    It was the encouragement of Abraham foundation and then Arcus that gave us the courage to “go for it” and it is certainly promising!

  4. Posted 2008-07-21 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    I think that people need to help out animals alot more often, becasuse they help us alot even if they are pest we shouldn’t hurt them any more than we have already . Alot of people are saying that if we hurt then they will all die. But when there animals die they don,t like it at all so maybe if they stop hurting the animals they might stay so we have alot more pets.Like if your dog dies you just want to take it out on somebody or something instead of taking it out on us or and animal we need to to take it out on your self

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