Photo credit: Carly Vynne
Illegal trade in bushmeat and pets is an intense and growing problem threatening wildlife. Limbe Wildlife Centre (LWC) is a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation project dedicated to the conservation and rehabilitation of wild animals. Founded in 1993 by the Pandrillus Foundation, other NGOs, and the government of Cameroon, Limbe Wildlife Centre has become a successful sanctuary for a variety of wildlife; including monkeys, chimpanzees, gorillas, reptiles and bird species. Cameroon is also home to a largely diverse amount of plant species and LWC is concerned with the conservation of plant life as well. The Centre plays an active role in the implementation and enforcement of national wildlife protection laws, providing a place for seized animals to recuperate and received medical attention if needed.
Photo credit: Markus Betz
Due to the hostile nature of Congo’s war-ravaged lands, the number of remaining Bonobos apes is one that is hard to pinpoint, and as a result there is no true approximation of their population size today. We are aware of one major fact, however. These creatures are endangered and their numbers are only decreasing. Multiple threats face the bonobos. Their main habitat exists within only one country: the Democratic Republic of Congo. The wars that have faced this area have directly affected the bonobos, through bushmeat trade and the destruction of their natural habitat.
Tattoo by Tony Sklepic.
While most know that zebras’ stripes serve as camouflage for protection from predators (when grouped together, their stripes make it hard for a predator to see just a single individual), there remains the conundrum of: Is it a black coat with white stripes, or a white coat with black stripes? Continue reading
There was a shootout. Andy and I weren’t there, but we learned through satellite text messages that Colonel Gui and his soldiers from the Congolese army ran into the bandits somewhere between Kisangani and Obenge—likely the brothers of Colonel Toms, a convicted war criminal and poacher. A gunfight ensued. One poacher was injured and two others were apprehended. Colonel Gui, with his prisoners in tow, is still coming to Obenge to route out poachers in the region. We should see them tomorrow.
I got the news during a four-day sampling hike through TL2 with Andy and the scientist John Hart [http://www.bonoboincongo.com]. But let me back up. After Kisangani, which is where I last blogged, we flew to Kindu, a town on the border of the 25,000 square mile jungle known as TL2. It’s the region Elephant Ivory Project-lead Samuel Wasser [http://depts.washington.edu/conserv/Director.html] wants elephant dung samples from most (read the previous posts to understand why). From Kindu, the three of us spent two days on the back of motorbikes, riding dirt paths notched into the jungle and savannah. These paths are arteries out of the bush. We saw locals pushing bicycles loaded with everything from pineapples to bush meat in the form of monkeys and okapi, a striped cousin of the giraffe. At the Lomami River, we loaded into motorized pirogues for a supposed two-day trip north to Obenge, the Hart’s research camp in the northern part of the proposed Lomami National Park. John stopped at every riverside village—about a dozen–to explain what the national park meant for the locals.
It’s been a fortunate few days. We arrived in Kinshasa on Monday, exhausted from 36 hours of transit, and found the Congo just as hot as we left it two years ago. On Tuesday morning, we met with Dr. Teresa Hart, a 30-year veteran of conservation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Teresa first came to the country as a Peace Corp volunteer in 1974. She’s now in her tenth year studying bonobos, an ape found only in the DRC, in a 25,000-square mile block of forest known as TL2. The region is an elephant sanctuary on paper, but animals are disappearing there faster than ever.
“Research here leads to advocacy because it’s all being destroyed,” says Hart.