Junior Amboko

Team leader, in charge of the camera trap program in Maniema.

Junior is a field person; he spends most of his time in the forest and loves it. His main responsibility is the camera traps, but he also participates in other mammal monitoring: walking transects to record animal sign and surveillance patrols that also monitor the main threat — hunting.

IMG_0079 copy
Junior setting up a camera-trap grid.

Junior’s favorite, though, is the camera traps. Animal species that were previously invisible are observed. “When we download the photos and videos from the camera trap cards, we see the miracle! We see animals we never saw before, even though TL2 monitoring started in 2007.” He is always at the camera trap set-up to make sure the cameras are correctly programed and placed in a good position. We want to maximize the chance of recording animals. He is especially happy to see bonobos, and he would like to see okapis, but they are elusive and only on the west side of the Lomami. So far he has been monitoring the east side of the Lomami.

Junior was born in 1988 in a village of the Haut-Uele Province. When still little, a man of his own ethnic group, Budu, came to the village and showed films. The man worked for the Okapi Reserve. One of the films was about okapis and Junior was fascinated. He asked the man what his job was. He said: conservation.

After this, Junior decided to study Biology at the University of Kisangani.

He started to work with TL2 at the end of 2014, and that was his first job in conservation. He remembers: “there was a notice at the university for a field training course with the TL2 project. I sent an e-mail to the address. I was chosen to take part and after the course, I was one of a few invited to stay for on-the-job training.”

Junior crossing stream
Crossing stream

He would like to complete the list of mammal species in the Lomami National Park with proof of each species in the form of photos including from camera traps, and even to contribute to behavioral and ecological knowledge of these species through the camera trap videos.

He finds the most difficult part of his work the analysis of the data, and this is something he would like to learn more about in the future. He wants to be specialized in camera traps, hopefully getting a graduate degree and staying in the field of conservation. As he doesn’t plan to have a family before the age of 30, he can still give his full time to the forest and his studies.