TL2 Training in the Ituri

Ashley on way to Epulu
Ashley on his “moto” and my “moto” covered with dry season dust. Our trip took two days.

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)
batoleka life style_feb08
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.
Ash,John, me Feb08_2
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.
training in Epulu_feb08
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.
Afarama/Edoro forest_feb 08
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 on primate survey_feb 08
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 …
Dino and Muhindo_Feb o8
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.
Afarama camp_February 08
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.
DSC_1656 owl-faced monkey©Copyright_Reto Kuster_E-Mail kuster.reto@gmx.net
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.

8 Comments

  1. Posted 2008-02-20 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    Well, the owl-faced monkey won’t be around much longer if things don’t change and change fast. Thanks for this update – it’s all very interesting and I really appreciate the work you’re doing to get the communities involved in conservation.

    s.

  2. THERESA SISKIND
    Posted 2008-02-20 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    Terese, I had hope this little monkey was alive, until I read the caption. When these critical areas have all been identified by your study, who do you present your findings to?

  3. Faye
    Posted 2008-02-20 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad to see that you all are blogging more frequently! You are doing great work.

  4. Posted 2008-02-20 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    I hope that your work there can realy make a change in the conservation of such emperiled species. Thank you for your important work!

  5. Somba
    Posted 2008-02-21 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Mama Tete,

    Good work , and I must witness the success of this training in Epulu

  6. michael
    Posted 2008-02-22 at 12:07 am | Permalink

    i counted the different monkeys ashley found in tl2, it was 11. possibly he can top the ituri forest.

    everybodies work is great.

  7. Terese
    Posted 2008-02-22 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    Well, the work of presenting this has already started. We feel that it is important to have everyone within the region know about the protected area and everyone in the administrations understand it. So we are already making local and regional presentations. But the final signing on a national park (and I think that is what the ICCN will seek) happens at the presidential level. The organizaiton that we work with is the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN). It is a parastatal organization and responsible for all of DRC’s protected areas.
    Somba — we DO hope that this training will continue to bear fruits and that it will be followed by more trainings!!
    Michael and everyone : the diversity of TL2 is pretty amazing…the “new” monkeys are as amazing as the number of monkeys and we have to get a better handle on where they are and WHAT they are.

  8. Theresa Siskind St Petersburg FL
    Posted 2008-02-22 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Terese, for the clarification. As a lay person, sometimes it is a little difficult for me to grasp all the implications, but I’m learning, with everyone’s help!

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