Bringing in 2013 with the Good and the Bad in DR Congo

I will soon put out a post with some of our most recent camera trap photos. This upcoming post will be of the good and the promising.

But here I will strike a brief note with the bad and broken promises of 2012 that are still there to ring in the New Year. This a short post – no pictures – just to admit that the road to forest protection is not smooth, is not simple, in DR Congo.

Many are the conflicting interests in this country. They erupt in blood for no reason but greed. I am going to be honest: it has been a frustrating year. High-level corruption gives a Cheshire grin when we seek government assistance. We see the years of work by our colleagues wiped out in a strike of pecuniary aggression followed by almost no retribution. Fifteen okapi lovingly cared for these past decades all shot dead by a bandit in one morning, a park guard burned alive and the village forced to watch, the head warden of a park shot off his motorcycle as he returned to his post….(all of these events in the last six months), and just this last weekend a park guard eviscerated in the Ituri.

How and when can we be confident that we are making progress? This year we will concentrate on building collaboration at the most local levels. This year we will monitor closely the forest we know and care about. This year we will turn to other NGOs and organizations with similar goals – alliances are essential. I hope that next January our words will be more optimistic.


  1. Nancy Handler
    Posted 2013-01-10 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    Terese, I am so sorry to read this. You and John have worked so hard for so many years and love the country so much. And with oil being added to the equation, there will be more corruption, hunting, and destruction of habitat. Richard and I both wish your team the courage to carry on your good work.

  2. Posted 2013-01-17 at 11:28 pm | Permalink


    I can’t imagine how challenging the work is for you and John, your crews, and the park personnel. It must be frustrating and heart breaking to do good work and to see bad things happen. I know it must be hard to keep going when it’s such a struggle. I hope you’ll all find the strength to keep going and not give up.


  3. Greg
    Posted 2013-01-24 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    Not sure if anyone here can help, but I have been trying to get in touch with a contact in Epulu since the attack in 2012. He is/was living in the village with his wife and children, and was employed at the ranger station. His name is Jacques Katsongo. He was in contact with me via email up until the attack. I am crossing my fingers that the only reason I have been unable to hear from him since the attack is because the computers were destroyed.

  4. Terese Hart
    Posted 2013-01-24 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    The guards that died either on 24 June during the attack on Epulu or else later at the hands of Morgan’s bandits are the following:
    Fiston Madawa
    Octave Kibela
    Badusi Mugaotinkoni
    Ezoa Aderedbho
    I think that Jacques is a civilian — right? I will make enquiries.

  5. Greg
    Posted 2013-01-24 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Terese. I don’t think Jacques was a ranger…he was working at the station when I last saw him in 2008, but may have just held a civilian role. I’m glad his name was not on the list you sent. I thank you for any inquiries you make.

  6. Michael Salter
    Posted 2013-01-24 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    This is terrible to hear, because these people are heroes, and this is how they end up. Please don’t give up.

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