We can only imagine what these vast tropical forests looked like 300 years ago when wildlife numbers were at the maximum that the ecological balance could support, a lush green paradise filled with the abundance of life… Now we have the “African silence”… The direct result of hundreds of years of exploitation by foreign powers, misguided aid packages, and the selfish meddling of developed countries. The first European, Arab and Asian colonists and explorers found an untouched wilderness inhabited by stable, proud black peoples that had lived in harmony with the African wilderness for more than 50,000 years. Their great work, the great monuments to these African peoples and cultures are the vast wildernesses that remain on the continent, the Kavango, Congo, Zambezi, Serengeti, Sudd, and Sahara. Africa still has natural resources and can look forward to centuries of prosperity unless world powers steal these resources, whether by treaty or war, from us. African governments are learning one, inalienable fact: Africa has what the world desperately needs and we do not need anything from them. Africa is rising and should hail our world-class wilderness areas as national treasures that need to be protected…
The remnant forests and wildlife communities that we find today in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are the result of the importation of millions of guns and billions of ammunitions over hundreds of years. All weapons imported have contributed to killing, poaching, hunting, dividing, and destabilizing. These forest have seen hungry child armies and militias with no support, little leadership, and unrestricted access to arms. Rape and civil turmoil have kept local people in the dark ages and displaced millions of refugees. The culture of killing instilled by colonial powers has persisted with birds being caught en masse for bushmeat, large hardwoods being clear-felled, the last elephants and hippo being shot for their tusks, and great apes like bonobos being eaten by local villagers. World powers have effectively chosen to ignore the devastating impacts of the historical trade in ivory, rhino horn, animal skins, rubber, slaves, and live animals. The carnage currently playing out in Africa started with colonial exploitation, then the boom of sport hunting and “safari”, and now continues under the weight of booming populations and growing civil unrest. We are coming to a “tipping point” beyond which we will be powerless to save the last ancient forest refugia remaining in Africa. We need to do eberything we can to bring stability and prosperity to the Congo before it is too late…
Colonial ivory exports far exceed anything that is happening today and damaged local elephant populations beyond repair. This is a single shipment from Kisangani… (Terese Hart / www.bonoboincongo.com)
Why are we eating bonobos? Can we save Africa’s vast wildernesses from destruction?
Please look at and share this series of photographs depicting a “secret Congo”, one only seen at night when the guns are not out hunting and the remaining wildlife can move around more freely. The destruction that we bring to these forests is unrelenting and now reaches the most remote areas where wildlife was previously left untouched. These photographs are all from an area called “TL2”, which includes field-bases and village camps in the basins of the three rivers, the Tshuapa, Lomami, and Lualaba. The TL2 Project has more than 25 long-term staff spread out in several teams in three provinces of central DR Congo. They are mainly local Congolese staff that grew up in the TL2 region and advanced from temporary camp hands to organizing missions and leading research teams. We need to support projects like this and do everything we can to ensure that the remaining wilderness areas in Africa are given a chance to recover and persist for future generations…
Message from Dr Terese Hart: “The TL2 Project has a budget of $780,000 for 2012. It is a large project that we run efficiently, fairly and transparently. One month ago we were still missing $339,000 for 2012, but because of your generosity and a proposal that was funded we are now only missing less than $99,000. We are encouraged and sure that we will make it through the end of this year and start 2013 at full strength.”
Steve Boyes has dedicated his life to conserving Africa's wilderness areas and the species that depend upon them. After having worked as a camp manager and wilderness guide in the Okavango Delta and doing his PhD field work on the little-known Meyer's Parrot, Steve took up a position as a Centre of Excellence Postdoctoral Fellow at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology. He has since been appointed the Scientific Director of the Wild Bird Trust and is a 2014 TED Fellow. His work takes him all over Africa, but his day-to-day activities are committed to South Africa's endemic and Critically Endangered Cape Parrot (Poicephalus robustus). Based in Hogsback Village in the Eastern Cape (South Africa), Steve runs the Cape Parrot Project, which aims to stimulate positive change for the species through high-quality research and community-based conservation action. When not in Hogsback, Steve can be found in the Okavango Delta where he explores remote areas of this wetland wilderness on "mokoros" or dug-out canoes to study endangered bird species in areas that are otherwise inaccessible. Steve is a 2013 National Geographic Emerging Explorer for his work in the Okavango Delta and on the Cape Parrot Project.
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