Pablo Ayali

We lost our Team Leader – Pablo passed away on December 2, 2018

Pablo’s favorite part of the work was simply being in the forest. He said: “for Conservation, you need love, passion and motivation.” He had all three.

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Pablo with a confiscated owl-faced monkey (from east of Congo-Lualaba).

Pablo got very weak in the 2nd half of 2018; the hospital in Kindu told us it was one of several liver problems and it was serious. The hospital in Goma confirmed that it was a chronic liver disease.  Over the next few months, he gradually got worse. He passed his last weeks in hospital. On Friday, December 1, 2018, he slipped into a coma. He died the next day. He leaves behind his wife, three children, family, colleagues, and many friends. We will keep his memory forever.

Pablo was born in Lubumbashi on 5 September 1981. His father was a dress designer, his mother a saleswoman. When he was 2-years-old, his family moved to Kisangani. He was a first-born child with 6 brothers and sisters.

In 2003 he started his studies at Kisangani University as a medical student. But after the first 2 years, he switched to study Biology. He made this decision because he wanted to do something beneficial not only for himself, but also for humanity. He said: “There are many doctors, but not many researchers or conservationists in this country.”

The person who motivated him was his paternal uncle, a biology teacher, specialized in Botany. Sometimes, during his studies in Medicine, Pablo accompanied him on his field trips to collect plants, and that was where he became passionate about biology and fieldwork.

He was still a Botany student in 2011 when he joined the TL2/Lukuru Project as a 3-month intern. His first job for the project was to collect and identify the plant species consumed by bonobos.

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Setting up a camera trap with John.

After he graduated from the University, he became a team leader for the TL2/Lukuru Project. He organized field missions, data collection, and data treatment and analysis. He was also familiar with mapping and ArcGIS. He took part in planning the forest survey transects together with the project’s scientific director, John. He spent the majority of his time in the forest.

Watch this montage about Pablo, edited by TL2 Project assistant Koko Bisimwa, for the occasion of celebrating Pablo’s life, and saying goodbye to him in the name of TL2 Project.

Pablo really enjoyed working with camera traps. He said: “This way we get to observe animals that live a very discrete life. For example, the lesula – the monkey discovered by the project – is incredibly difficult to see, but we have some nice camera trap footage of this species.” Pablo was excited though by what he could see without the camera traps. On one of his missions he was able to watch and photograph a dryas for the first time in TL2 with a hand-held camera.

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He wanted to continue his studies at the PhD level specializing in analysis of camera trap data, and coming back to work in conservation. He received an opportunity to go to Florida to pursue his dreams – that was when he became sick.

Being a first-born son, he also supported the studies of his two youngest siblings.

Soon before he died his last son was born. His wife with this child continues to visit the project in Kindu, perhaps another biologist will follow his father to learn, love and protect the forests of DR Congo.

Rest in peace, dear Pablo.