How We Spend Our Money

We spend on average $65,000 a month, or per year: $780,000. Since 2007, we’ve spent 2.6 million USD.

In short, our money goes to 3 things:

  1. people
  2. equipment
  3. food and fuel

1. What we spend on Congolese salaries:

Our salaries are considered very good and workers often work week-ends, holidays, and long hours in the forest.

The Lomami National Park, a park in the making, needs all of them.

Our team’s composition

  • 30 field-team leaders, field assistants, camp managers, town coordinators, and dugout helmsmen/drivers on yearlong contracts,
  • 28 forest trackers, guides, camp cooks and trail blazers on monthly wage,
  • Approximately 600 man-days per month of daily labor including porters, scouts, trail cooks, and bicycle transporters. Some of these have been with us for years.

What is everyone paid?

  • Contract workers vary from $300 a month to $ 1300 a month.
  • Director and Scientific director have the top salaries at $5000 a month.
  • Monthly workers vary from $150 a month to $ 300 a month.
  • Daily-wage workers get from $3.5 a day to $ 10 a day depending on the job.

Henri in pygmie village near Obenge
Henri, one of our team leaders, in a pygmy camp near Obenge.

How do these compare with other Congolese salaries?

  • A foot soldier in the army supposedly earns $60 a month, but may receive pay only irregularly;
  • A contract-wage laborer at the factory next to us in Kinshasa earns $120/m.

2. Equipment and Operations

There are a few big items that we have to renew on a yearly, or near yearly, basis:

  • A used car in Kinshasa. The current car bought February 2012, cost $10,300, a used Toyota corolla;
  • At least one motorbike a year — to keep a fleet of 6 running. In Kisangani, with legal papers, one new Yamaha AG100 (the workhorse motorbike over these roads) costs $4500;
  • Three dugouts. The dugout we bought in December for the Lomami River, hollowed out from a Gossweilerodendron balsamiferum tree, is even larger than the one we bought less than a year earlier on the Lualaba. It cost $4000;
  • 25 horsepower outboard motors go for $4000 in Kisangani.
  • Computers for field use (with software, anti-virus and pelican case) – $1800;
  • Small generators (in each major field camp and town bases) – $850,
  • Printers at town bases -$350,
  • Bicycles that actually move more of our equipment than motorbikes. These Chinese-made clunkers are rebuilt soon after purchase -$120.
  • GPS – Garmin 62series – $250,
  • Thurayas – sat phones – $1200,
  • Field data books (Rite N Rain) – we need a lot – $14,
  • Tents – many small tents rather than a few large tents are the best – $175,
  • Solar battery kit with charger – $170,
  • Rollable solar panel – $210
  • and the list is longer…

small dugout leaving Katopa camp
Helmsman, Papa Bolenga, turns our smallest of 3 dugouts around.

3. Food and fuel

  • Rations: $3500 per month for field camps and field bases – annually $42,000,
  • Fuel: $320 per barrel in Kisangani, we are buying about 60 barrels a year, so $19,200/yr,
  • Medicine kits : $1500 per month or $18,000/yr (includes medical check ups and treatment when team members come into town bases; in the field, village first aid as well as our teams),
  • Communication – by thuraya, by internet, by mobile phone…altogether about $2000/mo or $24,000/yr.
  • And the list is longer…

And there is always a special project: radio show, village outreach, a special provincial meeting to discuss hunting.

crossing motorbike on log
Gillain, our driver in Maniema, is balancing a new motorbike across a single-log bridge after a heavy rain.