Our Mission

To Know and to Protect Congo’s disappearing, remarkable animals in their fragile and diverse habitats.

Consistently over our last 50 years of conservation and environmental science in DRCongo, our small steps forward were made with a broad sweep of collaborators.  We work through Congo’s Nature Conservation Institute (ICCN) and we work for the freely expressed needs of local people.  We collaborate with their chosen leaders and government administrations at all levels.  Our view is long term; success is measured now and will continue to be evaluated long after our departure.

bonobo male in Lomami NP
Looking out over the Lomami National Park.

Our mission was distilled from observations and discoveries made starting in the 1970s : John came to DRCongo in 1973 on a Watson Fellowship to live among and learn from Congo’s eastern Mbuti Pygmies; Terese came as a Peace Corps volunteer in 1974 teaching at a mission school and living with a Congolese family.  It was a time when everything seemed possible.  We bicycled the Eastern Rift, climbing the Rwenzori Mountain and pedaled through the Virunga National Park.  We were enchanted; we became engaged to marry. 

The following years included PhD research in the Ituri Forest, afterwards we worked for Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), during which we helped create the Okapi Faunal Reserve and lift it to World Heritage Site status.  With the backing of Abraham Foundation and working through the Lukuru Foundation we started to discover the wonders of the Lomami wilderness and help push it to national park status.  Once Lomami National Park existed, we moved to Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) in 2019, to assure Lomami National Park’s long-term support in co-management with the ICCN.  We have now returned to Abraham Foundation and Lukuru Foundation; we are still in DR Congo. 

We are aware that in this country few are trained to do biological field work and carry through to effective conservation; we are aware that the international reputation of Congo has kept most foreign field biologists and conservationists from becoming involved.  If they do come, they generally don’t stay very long.  We hope through training and work with ICCN staff and local university students to help change that; we hope to facilitate the work of those coming from foreign universities and seeking local collaboration.

Projects we have started or propose to start:

  1. Help lift the Lomami National Park to World Heritage Status (with ICCN, UNESCO, IUCN)
  2. Assure the successful confiscation, rehabilitation and release of captured African Grey Parrots in Maniema Province (with ICCN and World Parrot Trust)
  3. Explore areas in Central and Central-East Congo that are little known, but suspected to have remnant populations of forest elephant, okapi, chimps, bonobos or other protected species.  
  4. Accelerate protection of these areas if they warrant it and are without conservation status.
  5. Re-census any DRCongo protected area that has not been inventoried for large mammals during the last two or more decades and where there may be elephants, apes, endangered primates, or other protected species.
  6. And we remain open to suggestions ….