Photo credit: Ciro Albano
EIA’s personal letter highlights gap between promises and actions
The Environmental Investigation Agency has written a personal letter to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to warn him that significant failings within a key state department in China are making a mockery of his pledge to “vigorously combat poaching, trade and smuggling of tiger products”.
Being a conservation photographer is more than just tripping the camera shutter. The real work begins after the pictures are made. What defines an iLCP photographer is a commitment to using powerful images for conservation. A shining example of this commitment is iLCP Fellow Amy Gulick. She takes the time to step out from behind the camera and put her images in front of those who can make a difference.
2011 is the International Year of Forests as designated by the U.N. General Assembly — perfect timing to showcase Amy’s work on the Tongass National Forest of Alaska and call attention to one of the most magnificent forests on Earth.
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.
‘Moses’, a suspected poacher in the Congo jungle, is burning crosses as death threats to National Park supporters, but it’s not enough to derail the Elephant Ivory Project team on to their mission to stop elephant poaching.
We just arrived this morning and I already want to leave Kisangani, a city of 700,000 in the center of Congo’s jungle. A cholera outbreak started in the city last week and left 27 dead—200 more cases have been reported. Andy and I are with Terese and John Hart, conservationists who have been working in the DRC for 30 years (check out their project Bonobos in Congo). They’ve agreed to help us plan our mission. But the question of where to start sampling elephant dung isn’t simple. The region Dr. Wasser wants us to sample most, the proposed Lomami National Park in the 25,000 square mile jungle known as TL2, has become even more dangerous.
Today, I’m packing. After two years in the works, we’re kicking off the Elephant Ivory Project in earnest on Sunday morning, when Andy Maser and I fly to Kinshasa–the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)–with a case of collection vials and the goal of saving a species. Here’s the back story: Continue reading