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#2: A Report on the Wildlife of Eastern Congo

The original version for the United Nations Foundation

For those who want to go more deeply into the situation in eastern Congo, here is the 26,000-word site report I delivered to the United Nations Foundaton in October of last year. It contains the greatest detail on the status of the parks and their wildlife and on the coltan trade. 

–AS

A Report on the Four World Heritage Sites In Danger in Eastern Congo : 
Biodiversity Conservation in the Vortex of Civil War

by Alex Shoumatoff     On August 20 of the year 2000, on assignment from the United Nations Foundation,  I set outon  a 25-day tour of  three national parks (Virunga, Garamba, and Kahuzi Biega) and one faunalreserve (Okapi) in the rebel-held  eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.  These four magicalpreserves are UNESCO World Heritage sites, and UNF is contributing $ 2.8 million, with another$1.2 million in matching funds verbally comitted from the European Union, to the heroic effort tokeep them going during the two civil wars that have ravaged the DRC (see glossary of acronyms) since l996. UNF had asked me to make an independent site report as the funds are about to bedisbursed.
       The magnificent primeval rainforests and savannas in these preserves are among  the last,  insome cases the last redoubts of some of the most extraordinary animals on the planet,  crownjewels of the animal kingdom like   the mountain gorilla,    the okapi (the secretive forest giraffewhich eluded scientists until l902), the northern white rhino (of which  only around 30 are left),and the  Congo peafowl (Africa’s only pheasant, whose closest relatives are in Asia and whosediscovery in  l938  was one of the ornithological events of the century). They are also havens for aspectrum of rebels and renegades collectively known as “the negative forces,” for whom theyprovide both cover and meat.  These include  ex-FAR, FAZ, and ADFL deserters (see Glossaryof Acronyms at the end of the piece); Interhamwe (the extremist Hutu youth militiamen who carriedout much of the l994 genocide in neighboringRwanda); Mayi Mayi (who are dedicated to driving out the Ugandan and Rwandan foreignersfrom Congo);  Ugandan NALU and ADF rebels from the  Ruwenzori Mountains (who predate thecurrent hostilities); and assorted non-alligned bandits. Joining them in the decimation the wildlifeare local poachers, miners of a rare mineral called coltan that is in great demand in the modern world,RCD, UPDF, and RPA regulars, SPLA deserters and regulars. 
        The guards in these embattled parks, having been disarmed and their radios, vehicles,and other equipment looted by the various armies that have swept through, are barely able to stem a smallpart of the poaching. Poaching is uncontrolled in most of  PNV, PNKB, both of whom have hadguards killed in recent attacks by negative forces, and a UPDF-RCD military operation has just gotten underway  to clean up the brazen poaching in RFO. The surveys of the animal populationsthat have managed to be conducted are extremely distressing : the hippo herd of Virunga Park,thirty-five thousand strong in l983, the largest in the world, now numbers 700-800. The elephantsand buffalo in Garamba have been cut in half, as have the lowland gorillas in the highland part ofPNKB (no one knows how many of the four to eight thousand gorillas in the Interahamwe-infested lowland part remain). Early this year the elephants were poached out of the highland partof PNKB.
       The UNF project, which PNG’s Kes Frazer and RFO’s Terese Hart spent more than a yeardesigning, unites the four parks under the prestigious political and diplomatic umbrella of theUNESCO World Heritage Convention, and  gives desperately needed teeth to their well-deservedclassification as places  of “outstanding universal value… for whose protection it is the duty of theinternational community as a whole to co-operate.” It imposes a uniform conservation strategy foreach of these very different biotopes, so that the conservationists involved in their protection willbe able to compare notes, and the hope  is that it wil eventually serve as a model for biodiversityconservation in all zones of armed conflict. The highest priority being to stop the slaughter of thewildlife, most of the funding is going directly to the anti-poaching effort, to paying,  equipping,and giving paramilitary training to the embattled park  guards and rewarding them with bonusesfor work well done.  It provides a uniform   law enforcement and biodiversity monitoring systemfor inventorying the animal populations and mapping, with sophisticated computer graphics, themovements of the poachers, so the patrols can be   most effectively deployed.  There is somemoney for local community-based “participatory” conservation programs : investing the peoplewho live on the borders of the park in its continued existence and simply improving their lot, sothey can have alternatives to exploiting its resources. Finally, a sustainable funding mechanism willbe  sought to keep these initiatives going after the four-year project ends. The money will flowthrough the American and European ngo’s who have been supporting the parks during this criticalperiod. The carefully thought out details are laid out in the 41-page document, with its threeannexes of charts maps.  

THE POLITICAL CONTEXT

          The parks have been in rebel territory since the outbreak of the second civil war in August,1998 split the country in two. Cut off from their administrative headquarters, the ICCN inKinshasa, they have been on their own except for the support of  international ngo’s like WCS,GIC, WWF, GTZ, IRF, ICGP, and DFGF (do I have them all ?).  The rebels had belonged to theAFDL which overthrew the long-time dictator Mobutu Sese Seko in May, l997 (concluding thefirst civil war, known as the war of liberation).  Zaire became the DRC, and  Laurent Kabilainstalled himself as  president.   The following summer,  Kabila fell out with his former allies,particularly those of Rwandan or Congolese Tutsi ethnicity, against whom he declared a pogrom,and they launched the second civil war whose goal is to remove him. The RCD, consisting ofCongolese Tutsi and other Congolese opposed to Kabila and supported by Rwanda and Uganda,quickly took control of the eastern half of the country, but by the end of l998 they  had split intothree  factions  : RCD- Goma, which is backed by Rwanda; RCD-Kisangani and the MLC, both ofwhich which are backed by Uganda. RFO, PNG, and the northern part of PNV are in the RCD-ML, Uganda-controlled zone. The southern part of Virunga and Kahuzi Biega are in the RCD-Goma, Rwanda-controlled zone.
     In June a diplomatic mission consisting of Drs. Jean-Pierre d’Huarte and Terese Hartpresented the UNF’s four-year project to the powers-that-be in Kinshasa, Kampala, Kigali, Bunia,Goma, and Bukavu. My mission was a follow-up : to guage how supportive the local authoritieswere to the project, and to the notions of   biodiversity conservation and protecting  worldheritage in general. I was also to ascertain the morale of the guards and the rest of the park staffand how effectively that were able  to do their job; to learn what I could about who was doing thepoaching, how much was going on,   how many animals are killed, and about civil war’s and otherimpacts on the parks.  The subtext was, as UNF’s Nicholas Lapham put it, we want to know ifwhat we’re doing is  a good idea.  Other environmental foundations bale out when civil war breakouts in the areas they have been supporting.  Is our project going to work ?

SUMMARY 

      My conclusion is that this is probably the most useful and important money the UNF will ever
spend.  Eastern Congo is one of the flashpoints of the global struggle to maintain biodiversity.
According to a recent survey of mortality in eastern Congo by the International Red Cross, 1.8
million people have died in the last two years,  either directly or indirectly due to the second civil
war.  There are about the same number of idp’s (internally displaced people) in the country at
large. The American Ambassador to Kenya, John Carson, told me in Nairobi, “the situation in
eastern Congo in the last two years is as bad as or worse than Sierra Leone. But no one is able to
get in, so the level of human-rights violations and sheer atrocity and human abuse of other human
beings is largely invisible. People are not systematically having their hands chopped off, but they
are being systematically killed with bullets and machetes.” 
       No one knows how many animals have been killed in this anarchic situation. Like the humans,
there are animal refugees (elephants fleeing fleeing the mayhem in Congo to Uganda’s Queen
Elizabeth Park), genocides of elephants and other species by former g‚nocidaires, and animal
marauders (elephants fleeing poachers to the safety of the villages have been  raiding the shambas
of Epulu, where RFO is headquartered).  The situation at PNKB is beyond critical : the day before
I got there a team that was mapping the park’s boundaries was attacked by  Interahamwe. 9  were
killed and four taken hostage. PNV is if possible even more menaced by local and negative force
poaching and invasion by farmers and cattlekeepers. One guard was killed and another kidnaped a
few weeks before my visit in the relatively secure southern sector where the mountain gorillas are. 
The elephants in the RFO are being decimated by poachers armed by  RCD-ML and Ugandan
officers and by hunters for the coltan mining camps.  The RFO guards don’t have the arms or
training  to confront  the poachers, and haven’t had any alternative but to turn tail when they meet
on a jungle path. But the early results of the military operation are promising.  Perhaps they will
be able to turn the situation around. PNG, with the least local population pressure and no resident
negative forces and an organized and motivated anti-poaching program, is in the best shape.  As
we flew over its savanna,  Kes and Fraser Smith spotted four new rhinos, and the indexes of
poaching activity  fresh carcasses,  shootouts  are down in the last few months.   But this
could change at any moment, if  the civil war in DRC or the long-standing one in neighboring
Sudan takes a turn for the worse, and the next army sweeps through.
        The bad news is that Congo is probably going to keep disintegrating. It won’t be sorting
itself out anytime soon,  because neither Kabila nor any the three rebel factions have the military
strength, popular support, or  leadership  to unite its 450 ethnic groups. The civil  war will drag
on,  anarchy will prevail, and in the absence of any rule of law or unified military control, the
negative forces, not to mention the relatively positive ones   the local people with little access to
other sources of  protein or income   will slaughter many more animals. . 
        The good news  is that in each of these parks a dedicated team of guards,  conservators, and
expatriate scientists and wildlife managers (known as the coop‚rants) is  putting their lives on the
line for these irrepleaceable species, and they deserve and desperately need all the support UNF
and anybody else can give them, not to mention the gratitude of mankind. They are genuine
heroes.   Which is not to say that they do not have their differences in ideology, personality, and
expertise. Congolais-Congolais, Congolais-coop‚rant, and coop‚rant-coop‚rant lines of tension
were in evidence at each of the sites,   accentuated by the stress of ominipresent personal danger..
There are those who believe that the animals come first, and that  the limited resources available
from international sources should be devoted to keeping them from being exterminated. And
those who believe that the people come first, and that the animals will never be safe  unless you
improve the conditions of the people who live around the parks. Some are focused on anti-
poaching, some on social programs, some on long-term baseline scientific research and training a
new generation of Congolais conservationists, some on immediate, practical conservation
measures. But all these approaches are equally valid and important and ultimately complementary,
and the remarkable people who struggling to protect these priceless sites  have a great deal  to
offer and learn from each other. The beauty of the UNF project is that it provides a framework for
them to do so. 
       The most impressive quality of the project’s collaborators to me was their courage and their
commitment.  “If I have a run in with the negative forces, c’est l’horoscope,” one told me.
“Chacun a sa chance,”  said another, while a third mused about a life-threatening undertaking,
“And if I die, just bury me somewhere in the forest.” High risk is part of this job description. You
can expect  to be wiped out, to have everything you have worked for completely destroyed and to
have to start again at zero, and to have to flee for your life at least once if you’re contemplating a
career in conservation in this part of the world.  I think there is an unwritten code among this very
special breed of conservationists, a sort of Hippocratic oath that they all take to themselves : no
matter how bad it gets, you don’t give up. 

GOMA

       The Congolais collaborators call RFO’s Terese Hart, PNKB’s Kes Frazer, and PNV’s
Annette Langouw les femmes de fer,  and before I crossed the border into the RCD at Gisenyi,
Rwanda, I stopped to pay my respects to Ross Carr, one of the prototypic courageous white
women in central Africa. (See my book, African Madness, pp. 32-33) A radiant soul now in her
eighties, Mme. Carr was a close friend of and undoubtedly a role model for Dian Fossey. She
came to Rwanda in l949 and has lived there ever since except for when she had to leave during
the genocide.  She still has her flower farm in the hills of above Lake Kivu, she told me, but now
she is devoting herself to her orphanage on the shore of the lake, where she takes care of 100
children whose parents were killed during the madness. She knows them all by name, and each of
their stories. 
       That evening in Goma I met with Dr. Vizima Karaha, the chief of security and intelligence for
RCD-Goma. After Mobutu’s overthrow by the AFDL, Karaha became Kabila’s foreign minister, 
the youngest foreign minister in the world, he told me. (We met in Kinshasa in May, l997, as the
ADFL came in. See my article, “Mobutu’s Final Days,” Vanity Fair August l997). But he is a
Munyamulenge. The Banyamulenge are Tutsi pastoralists who came from Rwanda, in the case of
Karaha’s family eight generations ago, and settled on the high plateau above Uvira, on the
western shore of LakeTanganyika, and on the plains between Masisi and Rutshuru. But they and
the other Congolais tribes of Rwandese “expression,” collectively known as Banyawranda, are
permanent foreigners, of “dubious nationality,” and have never been accepted by the rest of the
Congo as one of them. Karaha was poisoned and barely survived, and after Kabila turned against
the Banyawranda, he joined the RCD. Saving the animals and protecting the parks is clearly not a
priority of any of the three rebel factions, who are focused on winning the war, but Karaha
realizes the importance of these populations and their habitats to the international community, and
he pledged to help the project in any way he could, starting with an offer to provide me with a
military escort when I returned to visit PNV in two weeks. 
          Since the second war began, Karaha told me, 30,000 Rwandese Hutu have been
repatriated from North Kivu, and 8,000 from South Kivu, but there are still many Interahamwe
and their hostages in the region, thousands more in PNV and PNKB. His position, like that of
many Congolais I spoke to, is that the United Nations and the Americans created the problem by
failing to separate and disarm the Interahamwe and the ex-FAR in the refugee camps, so it was
their responsibility to solve it. In the fall of l994, hundreds of thousands of Hutu, fearing reprisal
for the genocide they had just committed from the advancing Tutsi-dominated RPA, poured over
the border at Goma, and were settled in 4 refugee camps that were kept going for two years by
the UNHCR and humanitarian ngos. The Interahamwe and ex-FAR ran the camps and launched
attacks from them in Rwanda and on the local Banyawranda, until October l996, when the
Banyamulenge with the help of the RPA broke up the camps. Most of refugees poured back into
Rwanda, but the hard-core g‚nocidaires fled west with hostages, and the RPA pursued them,
bent on revenge. Tens of thousands were massacred around Kisangani, but thousands installed
themselves in and around the parks and have still not been captured and are wreaking havoc on
the animals and the local people. As the RPA pursued the g‚nociadires, they slaughtered many
innocent Congolais. In August, l998 Kabila’s troops had a retaliatory pogrom of all the Tutsi they
could get their hands on, which was followed by more massacres of Congolais by the RCD as it
retook the eastern half of the country. So the hatred of Rwandans in eastern Congo, the
humiliation many citizens feel at being occupied by “Nilotics,” (most of Congo’s 450 ethnic
groups are Bantu) at this point is unbounded. One the project’s Congolais collaborators has a
theory that the UN and the Americans are so guilty about having done nothing to stop the
genocide or to disarm the refugees that they have given Rwanda the Congo in retribution.
      The outcome of the civil war depends on whether Kabila and his allies are able to keep the
rebels from taking Mbandaka. If Mbandaka falls, Kinshasa is next. Southeast of Mbandake is the
36,000 square-mile Salonga National Park, the largest protected tropical forest on earth, home to
the pygmy chimanzee or bonobo, the Congo peafowl, the forest elephant, and the slender-snouted
or false crococile. Salonga is also a beneficiary of the UNF project, but being in the government-
held part of Congo and so far relatively unscathed by the war and very difficult to get to, it is not
in the purview of this report. But when the fight for Salonga begins in earnest, Salonga could be
in serious danger. 
 
BENI

       The next morning, August 21, I flew over PNV to Beni, which is in the RCD-ML zone,
overland travel from Rutshuru to Kanyabayanga not recommended. There had been several recent
incidents of  Interhamwe burning vehicles and killing their passengers. Anti-Rwandese sentiment 
was running high in Beni and expressed more openly than in Rwanda-controlled Goma.  I asked
local agent of TMK, the airline I had flown in on,  what happened to the 33,000 hippos in the
park and he answered wryly, “We have replaced them with Tutsis, the species that you support.” 
      The slaughter of the hippos began when Mobutu’s unpaid soldiers mutinied at the end of l991
and turned their weapons on the huge herd and forced the dried  meat on the local people, making
them buy it at gunpoint. “Before that our people had never had a taste for game,” I learned from 
Kambale Kisuki, the RCD-ML’s Adjunct Commissar of Infrastructures. (All the high officials are
commissars because as the vice-commissar of defense Thomas Luhaka later explained to me in
Bunia, “We are still in the struggle. If we get the country we will become ministers.”.) 
Kisuki is a very good man, and a very important one for the future of the parks. Having worked
for WWF for eight years at RFO, he is a dedicated conservationist. But he is also a savvy
politician who knows how to navigate the unstable politics in this zone and get things done.
Kisuke had just repaved the main street of Beni and built a beautiful new wooden bridge across
the Epulu, a photograph of which he had reproduced on his calling card.
      At the moment, he told me, there were 13,000 refugees in Beni who were fleeing NALU and
ADF rebels who had swept down from the Ruwenzori, the fabled Mountains of the Moon. 
The negative forces around Kanyabayonga, on the western edge of the park,  had driven 110,000
i.d.p’s  toward Lubero, and a major humanitarian crisis was looming as it was impossible to get
food aid to them. Poaching, encroachment, and banditry are unchecked in northern sector of the
park, which extends above Lake Edward, and the central sector down to Rutshuru, as the guards
are not armed or paid and have no vehicles and it is impossible for them to make patrols. Only the
guards guarding the mountain gorillas in southern sector are paid by IGCP, the ones in north
haven’t seen a paycheck since the wars began and “morale is very low. They are in la misŠre
totale and pas motiv‚.”  The Shango-Kaviniango section of the park on the western side of the
lake is completely destroyed by Nande who have planted shambas. Several thousand  Hema 
cattlekeepers from Uganda, and escorted by UPDF, have invaded north of the lake at Karuruma.
(I would learn more about conditions in PNV on my return to Goma, see page 26 ff..)
      I also spoke with  an assistant conservateur from Maiko National Park named Valentin
Kambale-Kipiri Dilere, which has been completely abandoned. Maiko is the southern extension of
the Ituri Forest, and it has okapi, too, as well as thousands of  lowland gorillas and how many ?
Congo peafowl. It was proposed as World Heritage Site but kind of fell through the cracks,
because there was no in situ coop‚rant like the Harts or the Smiths to push it through.  The Harts
are trying to rectify this situation. Dilere told me that there is “no morale in Maiko. The guards
have scattered.” There is a relict population of several hundred Simbas in the forest. The Simbas
were the nativist-primordialist Maoist rebels who during the Mulele rebellion of l963-5 killed
whites and anybody with glasses, or a pen in their shirt pocket who was therefore tagged a
westernized ‚volu‚. The young Laurent Kabila was one of their commanders. The Mayi Mayi are
their idealogical decendants. The rebellion was put down by equally horrible European
mercenaries. In the early 90s a Congolais collaborator of the Harts who was trying to find out the
density and distribution of the okapi, elephants, and gorillas in Maiko, was kidnaped by some
Simbas. He was traded for a sewing machine. Dilere told me that most of the Simbas had just
surrendered to the RCD and were in Beni, being rehabilitated and recruited into the army. “We
wait along the Simbas’ paths for them to come out of the jungle for food,” Dilere went on. “I
killed many of them with my Uzi.”

THE HAIRY TRIP TO EPULU

      Kisuke said I better get going if I wanted to make Epulu by nightfall so I hopped on the back
of a motambusi a motorcycle taxi, also known as a pici pici, which was actually a flashy red
dirtbike,  driven by a 20-year-old named Patrique. We took off for Epulu down a slick red mud
track speeding through villages, that was all that was left of the old Belgian colonial road. The
road was, as Patrique put it,  impracticable. We passed a truck that had been mired in mud for
two days. A team of shirtless barefoot men digging it out. The driver was sitting in his cab in a
spanking white outfit. It is specified in his contract that he doesn’t have to dig. Women had
materialized with food. It ws a whole little scene.
       In the days of the Belgians Congo’s roads were so smooth that the Belgian road
superintendent would speed down them with a glass of water on his dashboard, and if a drop
spilled, the local sous-chef in charge of keeping up that section would get a beating. When I
passed through here 19 years ago, the roads were already in a state of advanced deterioriation.
Now they were completely abim‚es. Mobutu hadn’t kept them up because he wanted to make it
as difficult as he could for anybody to get to Kinshasa and overthrow him. This had its positive
side.  From the point of view of keeping down poaching and lumbering, Mobutu was a great
friend of the conservation effort. 
      Patrique expertly skirted gaping holes and threaded knife-edged ridges between pools of
water, flailing away with his black rubber booted feet at the passing ground, not wasting a second
or making a wrong move, as if he were in a race. The villages became fewer and farther between
the walls of trees and scrub. By 3:30, south of Tetuye,  we topped a rise and had a view of a vast
magnificent virgin rainforest spreading for miles to the west, huge trees well over a hundred feet
tall. The Samboko forest. It was filled with poachers, and several vintages of deserter, ex-FAZ,
ex-FAC, and ex-RCD, who preyed on the villagers at night and on the rare motambusi that passed
through. I didn’t know this, but few days earlier Innocent, one of RPO’s employees, had been
stripped and cleaned out. And GTZ’s Karl Ruf would be relieved of some of his goods along here
a few weeks later. But our horoscope was propitious. We reached the Ituri River, passed pygmy
women, black and white colobus monkeys streaming through trees, little zones of deafening full
throated birdsong and insect din, fifty-yard stretches of delicious aroma. I began to feel the magic
of one of the most cut off and inaccessible places on the planet. 
     After seven hours we reached Mambasa. It was too dark to continue. Fireflies were glancing
off the vizor of my helmet, and the sky was blazing with stars. We stopped at the Italian mission.
A good meal and a soft bed would be good about now, but it was not to be. The padre came out
and said he had visitors from Italy and was full up. He suggested the Hotel Des Pygmies, which
was beyond ratty. There was  one single bed on a concrete floor which Patrique and I shared. In
the morning I had to deal with the local immigration official, a man named Fredu who had been
there since Mobutu. “Vous ˆtes dans ma domaine migratoire,” he declared, and tried to hit me up
for a $40 permis de s‚jour.” I talked him down to twenty. He didn’t have a pen to enter my name
in his little ledger and tried to pocket the one I lent him. The old cleptocratic ways die hard. “The
first to break the law are les responsables,” one of RFO’s administrators told me. “Fredu is one
of the old Mobutu people and it’s not a touch of a magic wand that’s going to change them. From
May 97 to August 98 the state functionaries were paid by Kabila. There was security and the
maintenance of the roads. People were starting to respect the authority of the state. Now there is
nostalgia even for Mobutu.” Those contemplating giving aid to the Congo should bear in mind
that officials like Fredu are not the exception, but the rule. To understand how Congo got that
way, Adam Hochschild’s King Leopold’s Ghost is required reading. It has been since its creation
as the Congo Free State by the king of Belgium for the plunder of its ivory, rubber, and other
resources,  a shell state, a “half-made country,” as V.S. Naipaul has called it, whose purpose is to
enrich whoever is in power, or as in the present moment, whatever neighbors are occupying it,
and their backers. 
     “You’ll like Epulu. The okapi meat is delicious,” Fredu told me, and one of his associates
offered me an ivory statuette of a nude that he said he had carved himself. 

EPULU
 
     We set off for Epulu.     The beginning of the rains had brought out butterflies galore. Big
tailless papilios with blue wing bars (Papilio nireus ?) were puddling in the moist sand. The last
lepidopterist to work here, John Douglas of the Field Museum, for a few month in l989 , found
three new species. The lepidofauna of the Ituri Forest was no less spectacular than it was when I
passed through here in l981 and is waiting for some ballsy lepidopterist to take up where Douglas
left off.  After three hours we crossed Kambale Kisuki’s beautiful new bridge over the huge,
swollen Epulu River gushing through the forest. 
      On the other side of the bridge is the RFO headquarters, the old Okapi Capture Station of the
Belgians. It is a hauntingly beautiful spot, a version of the Garden of Eden or the Emerald Forest.
The old colonial buildings were trashed by Mobutu’s retreating soldiers in l996, then by the
armies of both civil wars. They have been rehabilitated and added to by GIC and WCS and the
compound is very shipshape and impressive, an island of order and sanity in a sea of chaos.
Young Congolais intellectuels looked up and beamed from computers, a talented artist showed
me his cartoons of okapi, elephants, and soybeans for educational comic books. An old guard
named Abedi Morishu recognized me immediately from 19 years ago, remembered that I was the
one who walked through the forest from Nduye to Epini for tens days, and had spent a few days
at the station with the Harts. (My book In Southern Light, pp. 116-181, relates my trek through
the heart of the Ituri Forest and lays out a lot of the natural history and ethnography).
          I met the conservateur en chef, Jean Joseph Mapilanga, an extremely competent and
intelligent man who is “something we can work with,” Terese Hart told me, and a great
improvement over some of his precedessors. Mapilanga has been at Epulu since l995. He told me
grimly, “In the 14 years I have worked for ICCN, the last year has had the worst conditions. Ivory
is being poached and coltan is being mined in our face. There is no authority. We have only ten
guns  eight Kalashnikov AK 47 and 2 Mozed 30’s and 40 guards, ten of whom are too old to go
on patrol, and we need 250 guards and many more arms. We are having a major elephant
poaching crisis and there’s nothing we can do about it.”

      One of the old guards led me through an allee of 100ft Terminalia trees to the stone house
where Karl Ruf was staying, and where I would be quartered for the next four days. The Harts
had left in early August. It was a great shame that we didn’t overlap, but I had visited them in
Booneville, on the other side of the Adirondacks from where I live, in July and we have been in
close touch since my return, and I was delighted to make the acquaintance of. Karl. He grew up in
Adelboden, in Switzerland’s Berner Oberland. I spent many summer of my childhood in
Kandersteg, in the next valley. We had climbed many of the same peaks and passes so I knew
exactly where he was coming from. He has the humility, simplicity, and generosity of the
oberlander, and is a very special human being,  in my book, a fantastic guy. 
      Karl trained to be a zookeeper in Basel and was hired by Mobutu to put together his zoo in
Gabdolite, which he spent four years doing. In l983 he and his wife Rosie, traveling around Zaire
on their vacation, drove past the derelect Okapi station. Grass was growing through the floors.
      The history of Epulu  is very interesting and I suggested to Mapilanga that someone should
collect it while the last people who remember Putnam and Turnbull are still alive. A booklet like
the superb one WCS did for Rwanda’s Nyungwe could be put together, laying out the natural and
human history and the ethnology of the Ituri Forest, and sold to tourists, once tourism resumes. 
In l991 8,000 tourists came to Epulu. Since then there has been barely a trickle.
 
     Patrick Tracy Lowell Putnam, 1903-53, was of old Brahman stock and according to Helen
Winternitz  “a great eccentric…. beset by bouts of genius and madness. He was also an
anthropologist ruined by dilettantism who never published any substantial work on the pygmies,
although he eventually gathered a vast store of knowledge about them.” Arriving in the 30s,
Putnam founded a scientific research camp and hotel. He had a clinic where he vaccinated the
Mambuti pygmies and the local Bantu Babira farmers with whom they live in symbiosis. He
captured an okapi to show his guests. Putnam’s Bambuti were inherited by the American
anthropologist Colin Turnbull, who wrote the classic “The Forest People” and visited Epulu on
off through the early seventies. In l979 came the Harts, a great young American couple, he to
study pygmies and okapis, she a botanist. John has boundless energy and infectious enthusiasm
and a deep love and understanding of the pygmies and the African mindset.  Terese has a sharp,
sophisticated scientific mind and an good overall picture of the multiple interacting forces
impacting the parks. Administrative, diplomatic, and political skills not  found in many natural
scientists have blossomed in her  decades of struggling for the RFO.  The prospect of working
with the Harts was one of the reasons I took this assignment.  The Harts lived in Putnam’s old
house, on the other side of Epulu   and raised their children there. When I visited them 19 years
ago, we all took a swim in the river, right where in l994?  their daughter’s tudor had  her arm
bitten off by a Nile crocodile, which have grown in size and number, perhaps migrating down
from the Nduye, in the l990s so that swimming in the Epulu is not such a good idea any more. 
       The Okapi Capture Station was founded in l952 by a man named Medina , to provide okapis
to zoos, and there was some effort to domesticate elephants and farm Nile crocodiles. Nearby was 
an elegant hotel  that expatriates in Kisangani thought nothing of driving to for the weekend. The
same trip today takes weeks. The Okapi Station was abandoned during the 64-66 rebellion. The
Simbas ate all 28 of the okapis. When Karl and Rosie Ruf passed through in l983, they thought
what a great idea it would be to fix the place up and get it going again. “We knew all the zoos
were interested in fresh okapis  there were only 70 in a captivity   so we got them to invest in
a conservation project where in situ and ex situ you protect the animal in the wild,” Karl
explained. “12 zoos in the U.S. and 8 in Europe are contributing $5000 each a year which is used
to breed okapis here and to provide infrastructure like new guard posts. Three of the okapis are at
GIC’s White Oak Plantation in Florida. San Diego and Brookfield and Cincinatti zoos have sent
their females to breed with them, and the whole consortium decides where the babies go.
Wupperdal in Germany, for instance, has too inbred males so we are sending them  a fresh one.”
       GIC has been paying the guards $50 a month, with bonuses, $42 of which will now be paid
for by UNF, freeing up the GIC to fund pensions for the retired guards, to recruit new guards,
and to improve conditions for the people in Epulu, of whom 1500, the dependents and extended
families of RFO’s employees, local merchants, etc.,  Karl estimates already benefit from the
$26,000 a month that GIC has been bringing in. Until his death a few years ago, the 60 pygmies
on GIC’s payroll would send paper baron turned conservationist John Gilman their thumbprints in
gratitude  at Christmas.
       In 1996 Mobutu’s retreating soldiers looted $300,000 of vehicles, radios, and other
equipment at the station. Karl stayed till the last moment and barely escaped, jumping into a
friend’s plane in Mombasa with a jeep full of FAZ in hot pursuit. Things calmed down, and Karl
returned to pick up the pieces. In August 98 he had to bale out again. This time he was picked up
by Frazer Smith. 
       “In the last five  months,” Karl told me, “the elephant poaching has gotten completely out of
hand. Congolais deserters and regulars in league with the local chefs coutoumiers are doing most
of it, but Ugandan officers are also involved. The soldiers keep the ivory, and the chefs keep the
meat, so everybody is against the park.  Some of the poachers are given arms and shells by the
Congolese military to hunt for them. Shabani, a good hunter, is known to buy his shells from
soldiers. There is a big secret trade in guns and ammunition in the territory.”
       Elephants have always been hunted in the Ituri Forest. Traditionally pygmies ran up under the
elephant and plunged  spears into its belly. With the advent of the Kalashnikov, during the Mulele
rebellion, it became possible to mow down an entire herd with the squeeze of a trigger and the
carnage escalated exponentially. When I flew into Isiro in l981 there was a huge stack of tusks
lying on the runway, waiting to be loaded. They belonged to one of Mobutu’s officers. One of the
local Balese men who took me into the forest for eleven days was planning to start a little store in
his village with the proceeds of the tusks he had paid some pygmies to get for him. Killing an
elephant was then, and still is, one of the few ways to get ahead. Then with the IUCN’s ban on
international trade ivory in l988, the poaching fell way off.  But in the early 90s there was a gold
rush, and  huge mining camps sprang up that were provisioned with elephant meat. Now the gold
was just about gone, and everyone was digging for coltan. There was a camp with several
thousand miners at Badendaido, 60 kilometers to the west. Soldiers were selling them elephant
meat.  10 of the top RCD command in Mambasa were instigating a lot of the poaching. 
      Mapilanga showed me the latest report on poaching in and around the park from March to
August, illustrated with maps that displayed a high order of computer-graphics expertise. 16 stars
marked the hot spots : where there were reports of signs of poachers or contact between them
and the guards. Two were elephant carcasses found within ten km of Epulu. Elephants fleeing the
poaching were coming out of the forest and raiding the shambas, and someone had shot them.
Who was “not yet elucidated,” Mapilanga told me.   Diagonal slashes marking intense poaching
activity etched the roads along the southern and eastern borders of the park,  and part of western,
halfway up to Wamba; scored most of the center of the park and spread southeast three quarters
of the way down along the Mambasa-Beni road that I had come up on. 
      The only solution, it was becoming increasingly clear, was a full-scale military operation to
clean up the poaching. It would have to be headed by Ugandans, because it if was only RCD it
would be too tempting for them not to join in on the braconnage. To this end, the UPDF
commandant in Bunia, Colonel Angina, had been approached, and he was receptive to the idea. 
While I was there, the RF0 management met in an emergency session and had their final debate on
whether to go ahead with the operation. The protectors of the park were already none too
popular in certain quarters, and if they started to come down on the chefs coutoumiers and the
guys with the guns it could be very dangerous for them. But it was either that or lose the
elephants, and what were they there for ? In the end everyone at the meeting  voted uninamously
and without hesitation to go ahead with the operation. 
       The plan was to hire 40 soldiers, both UPDF and RCD, for three months.. GIC would foot
the $15,000 bill. The ten corrupt RCD commanders in Mombasa would be replaced, and the thirty
soldiers under them, who brought them the ivory from the poachers, would be recruited into the
anti-poaching force. If necessary the soldiers could be kept going with rations for a year.  The
ultimate goal was to establish the permanent presence of an authority with the threat of deadly
force. The first targets were the hot spots, the 16 stars. Mapalinga had the names of the most
notorious poachers. They would be arrested, and their guns would be given to the guards. “We
need 30 automatic weapons and 3000 shells,” Mapilanga told me. “The northern part of the park
has never been controlled. We need stations at Wamba and Digbo, and to get five guards,
working 15-day shifts, back to Moto Moto, as they did before the debut of the second war.”
Moto Moto is a village in the heart of the forest whose main raison d’etre, when I visited it 19
years ago, was to sell bushmeat to Wamba, and still is.
      The latest news from Karl Ruf, who is back at White Oaks,   is good (I phoned him on
October 20) : 30 soldiers reached Mambasa, the corrupt ten commanders were out of there, and
in two days two guns, 150 kilos of ivory, and two of the big poachers had been captured. 
***
      At 5 a.m. on Monday the 23rd I went into the forest  with Robert Mwinyihali, the
administrator of CEPRECOF,  partner of WCS, and Terese Hart’s right-hand man, an extremely
intelligent and dynamic young Congolese intellectuel. Robert is coordinating the zoning of the
villages around the park, a vital but massive task, with the help of a $65,000 grant from USAID.
With us was  a forester named FidŠle, who knew the scientific names of many of the plants and
obviously loved his work. We passed some huge thickets of native bamboo that had been
trampled flat by elephants who eat the young shoots.   14″ high white mushrooms that were not
edible. “They’d make your tongue hang out,” FidŠle told me.  Others equally tall with brown stars
on their caps. The mushrooms are as unstudied as the butterflies. The pygmies eat many species,
including a species of chantrelle  which they call kebekebe and eat raw, especially when they have
no store salt because it has a salty taste. We found masses of kebebeke under some
Gilbertiodendron  trees. They looked indistinguishable from the orange chantrelles of the
Adirondacks and the steinpils of the Alps. How what appeared to be the same mushroom could
be growing here is one of the many mysteries of the Ituri Forest.  I gathered some and cooked
them up for dinner and they were scrumptious. Some edible species from the Ituri Forest are sold
in Beni and Butembo. I suggested to Karl that with a small investment in a dehydrator you could
sell little jars of dried mushrooms labeled picked by the pgymies in the Ituri, proceeds going to the
World Heritage Site in danger, for ten dollars apiece easy, and he said, “Maybe by the time
stability comes we can think of such things.” 
    We passed some chimp nests. There are 13 species of primate in the RFO, and eleven species
of duiker, the dimunitive forest antelope, some noctural, some diurnal. FidŠle pointed out the knee
prints of a  elephant, a solitary old male,  that had slept there, then slid ten feet down the path. 
In l995 John Hart estimated that there were 5688 elephants in RFO’s 7200 km2, or .79 per km2,
greater than the density of Maiko or PNKB. But he wouldn’t hazard a guess as to how many
there are now. He has been contracted to monitor the elephant populations and illegal killing in
Cameroun, Gabon, and Congo for CITES. RFO, PNG, and PNKB are also on CITES’s official
danger list, and Hart will be working closely with UNF’s biodiversity and law-enforcement
monitoring programs, and will soon have a better idea of the impact of the poaching in RFO. 
About a hundred elephants are known to have been poached, but the actual number is probably
much greater. This part of the forest was a maze of fresh elehphant trails. The okapis, of
which Hart estimated there were 3456, are more elusive and are probably faring better.
     This “ellie,” as a delightful Englishman I met in Garamba calls them, had come to eat the
young saplings of saplings of Gilbertiodendron dewevrei, which the pygmies, for whom it is  an
important honey tree, call mbau.  The mbaus, in the Caesalpiniaceae family of the legumes,  are
among the grandest and most ubiquitous trees in the forest and are also an important source of
timber. Their eight-inch pods, which supposedly kept Henry Morton Stanley’s Emin Pasha Rescue
Expedition from starving when it passed through the Ituri Forest in l887, and broad brown leaves
littered the forest floor. 
     We reached the research camp at Lenda from which CEFREKOF’s botanical team has been
studying two ten-hectare plots, in which Gilbertiodendron is dominant, since l994. (Two other
ten-hectare plots of mixed forest elsewhere are also under study.)  The research is funded mostly
by WCS and is shared with the Smithsonian Institution’s Center for Tropical Forest Science,
which has plots around the world. “We census everything that’s woody from one centimeter in
diameter up,” Robert explained. “We were the first to include stranglers and lianas. We have
found 689 species in all four plots, of which 242 are lianas  more than in Panama and India, but
fewer than in the Amazon and some parts of Malaysia.” Recently a tree in the Sapotaceae family
and in a genus previously found only in South America was discovered. The girths of 1000 trees
in a 20 by 100 meter transect are regularly measured to get an idea of their carbon intake rate, and
the flowering and fruiting times of 434 individual trees  in both plots are being recorded with the
help of the pygmies, who have their own names for all the 40 species to which they belong. 
This basic information will enable the researchers to understand the movement of the ellies and
other animals in the forest, and in the process of gathering it a new generation of Congolais 
conservationist is being trained. 
      The researchers had already left for the study plots, and rather than try to hook up with them,
we decided to return via one of the coltan mines in the forest, which was several hours’
bushwack. Terese has been gathering information on the coltan mining and its impact on the
wildlife in RFO and PNKB and suggested I pay a visit to one of the carri‚res. We are both
interested in learning the extent to which what is going on in Congo is a resource war in the guise
of a civil war. A pygmy named Asani, whose father Kenge was immortalized by Turnbull, led us
through the maze of elephant trails (many of them culs-de-sac) and pygmy honey trails. We
surprised a troop of Colobus badius monkeys at a salt deposit. There ae about 10,000 pygmies in
the Ituri Forest, one of the largest populations in the world, and to me they are as great a treasure
as the wildlife. The Bambuti are allowed to  hunt duikers and facochŠres (which are what Terese
?) in the park with traditional methods, nets and snares, to feed their families. Asani had helped
John Hart pit-trap and radio-collar 20 okapis in l988-90, which provided the first scientific
information about their range and habits. Like what ? 
      We announced our arrival at the mining camp by whooping and  banging a stake against the
thin, flaring buttress of an Eko julbernardia tree. The camp was called Bomalibala, Lingala for the
camp that causes divorce, because “any woman who comes here puts her hearth in danger,” one
of the miners told me. There was a  barrier manned the camp’s militia, teenagers with carved
wooden machineguns. It was a colorful scene, a village of thatched-mangungu-leaf shanties and
smokey fires, on which women, many of them young and pretty, were cooking dried fish and
beans. Most of the men were off mining coltan. The chief was passed out from drink and unable
to see us, but his porte-parole, his spokesman, told us that there were about 150  residents in the
camp. The miners were mostly autochthonous Babira, but there were some from Bafwasende.
The girls came from all over  Banande, Babudu, Babale, Balese, Bandaka. Some stayed a day or
two, some stayed longer.  They came with sacks of food and cooked for the men and danced and
drank and slept with them and departed with little plastic bags of coltan. The miners made little or
nothing for their labor, which is also the case with the people who kill the elephants.  The
spokesmen showed me a bagful of  heavy, irrisdescent-black flakes and nuggets of the metal,
which was worth $25 to $30 a kilo. The Harts had found buyers from South Kivu in this camp.
This was top dollar, I later learned, so the coltan must have been pretty pure. Once it reaches
Epulu, it is taken by the kumba kumba, the small traders who push bicycles laden with produce
and pedal and coast down the muddy tracks for several days  to Beni and Bunia. Some of it goes
to Kampala, some to Kigali. Where it ends up, and how much it is worth when it gets there, was
something that Terese and I were eager to learn. “We don’t know what it is for or where it goes,”
the spokesman told me. “We are mining it because gold is scarce. This is not a village of family
ties, but of mutual interest. We have an established order, a commandant and our own police.
Thieves and sorcerers are rejected. We don’t accept the killing of okapis or elephants, but
sometimes soldiers come with elephant meat, and we are obliged to accept it. The people at the
station want us to leave, but to go where and do what ? We can’t support ourselves by growing
food or fishing because the roads are abim‚es. More and more of us are leaving our villages and
going into the forest in the quest to survive.”
      There are about 50 such camps in the RFO. As we walked back out to Epulu, we came across
half a dozen men who were digging up a streambed and shoveling the alluvium into halved-log
sluices. The destruction was appalling but confined to 50 yards of the streambed which would
probably recover after several rainy seasons.  A hard-working miner could make $15 a day at this
even he didn’t give his coltan to the women  big bucks in this part of the world. 
***
     Karl Ruf gave me a tour of the station’s well-stocked and manned dispensary, the experimental
plots of nitrogen-fixing legumes with which the villagers will eventually be able to prolong the life
of their shambas and thus reduce the pressure on the forest, the cane-rat breeding program,  the
beautiful new school GCI had built, the springs that provided water to the villages that GCI is
cleaning up, the overgrown airstrip that he had cleared in l995 and was applying to the authorities
in Bunia for a permit to reopen. One of Epulu’s chief, whose name was Bakotila, gave me a
different tour. He took me to the village’s empty dispensary, at one time but no longer supported
by an Italian ngo,  where a young man, down with malaria,  was trying to ride out his splitting
headache. “The people demand care, but there is no medicine, no pay for the nurses or the
teachers, because the state has no means,” said Bakotila.. We called on Kenge, who was prostrate
with grief because his wife had been killed a few weeks earlier by a falling tree in the shambas, and
visit the pygmy camp of Mayanimingi. The women had acquired a taste for pots and metal
cooking ware since my last visit, but otherwise their happy-go-lucky way of life seemed little
changed. They danced for me, and all too soon it was time to leave Epulu.
       Considering the pressures on RFO, morale among its protectors is remarkably high, although
the collaboration of certain individuals could be better.. The only complaint I heard is that funds
are not getting to the site in an expeditious manner. The emergency funds promised by UNESCO
in January, l999 have yet to arrive. 
BUNIA

       I was not looking forward to the  next leg of my journey  getting to Bunia, the capital of
RCD-ML. Prior to my departure the UN’s IRIN bulletins (an invaluably detailed source of day-to-
day conditions in the DRC) reported that  inciviques believed to be NALU rebels and/or ex-FAC
deserters were assaulting vehicles traveling from Beni to Bunia at Mufutabangi and abducting the
female passengers into the bush. And there was also heavy banditry by a band of mixed deserters
along the 60 km. stretch from Mambasa to Lolwa, which is particularly abim‚e. A kumba kumba
had had his dried fish and his bicycle stolen a few days earlier, and a woman had been abducted
from a motorcyle. Plus 400 UPDF soldiers coming west on the road from Bunia, perhaps to
reinforce Bemba in Equateur, and they would certainly not let such a windfall as a mundele
(lingala for white) on a motorbike pass without relieving him of at least some of his goods.
Mapilanga thought it would be safer  to return to Beni and fly to Bunia, and he didn’t get any
argument from me. Getting in and out of RFO in one piece is a serious problem, and I am with
Karl that the airstrip should be reopened. But the strip has to be controlled by the park. If
undesirable parties like Kabila’s soldiers are trying to land, empty oil barrels can be rolled out.
Terese is worried that the reopening of the airstrip would require the presence of RCD soldiers
who could cause problems,  that it could be used to get resources like coltan and ivory out like
the five strips in and around PNKB. The security on the ground from Beni and Bunia, she argues,
is a personal problem, not the park’s. But sooner or later somebody is going to be not just robbed,
as Karl was a few weeks after I left, but killed, and that will not be huge loss. It was Karl who
said, “And if I die, just bury me somewhere in the forest.” 
      Karl instructed me how to behave should I be waylaid : in one pocket, you have your first
offering. If the bandits are not happy with that, you produce your second offering. If they still
want more, you let them have it. Under no circumstances should you resist. They would have no
qualms about killing you on the spot.
      Passing back through  Mambasa, I called on the interim administrator of the territory, 
Nyamabaku-dudu Marc. After telling him that I did not appreciate being shaken down by his
colleague Fredu, I asked if he thought the existence of the  RFO was a positive thing.  “We can do
nothing,” said Nyamabaku-dudu. “It is an organism that has been around for many years.” As for
the UNF’s project, he assured me, “We are here to cooperate. We are open.” Are there any plans
to do something about the poaching ? (I was sworn to secrecy about the joint operation with the
Ugandans. Colonel Angina had said if word gets out that the RCD command in Mambasais going
to be removed it could backfire badly, and the deal is off.) “We hear some chefs coutoumiers are
involved and we are investigating,” he told me.  “The population and the deserters of Mobutu,
Kabila, and Wamba are hard to control, because we don’t have much of a unified strike force, but
we will send a report to our superiors and they will  tell us what to do. Why hasn’t the
conservateur sent us a report on the coltan mining in the park ? It’s been going on for six months.
The miners are possibly put up to it by les exterieurs.” Who told them the stuff was valuable ?
“Maybe buyers in Mambasa, Bunia, and Beni. The miners say they have no alternative, and it’s
true.”
        On the trip back down to Beni we passed fifty pygmies dancing.  At Luemba the RCD
commandant for the region, or so he identified himself, flagged us down and commandeered two
litres of our gas for his motorcycle. He made me open my bag, hoping there was ivory in it that he
could confiscate, and instead found my small traveling guitar  which he took a fancy to. I said I
need that and you can’t have it and it you bug me any more I’ll tell Wamba, whom I’m on my way
to see.” “Don’t threaten me with Wamba,” said the commandant. “He does nothing for us. Kabila
gave us $100 in the beginning, but Wamba has never given us anything. On se d‚brouille.”
        In the end, he contented himself with the gas, and we sped on until we reached Kambale
Kisuki’s house. A dozen women were sitting on the back porch, knitting silently, the Beni knitting
club.  Rosie Ruf had taught them. 
        Kisuki’s gave me some hard-hitting questions to ask Wamba, and in the morning, just as he
was about to take me to the airport, some Ugandan soldiers came in a truck and took him away.
“It’s good that you’re seeing this how we are treated,” he said as they drove off. His driver
explained,  “Wamba ordered all the ministers to Bunia where he can keep an eye on them and
Kisuki refused.” Kisuki was in the camp of Mbusa Nyamwisa, Wamba’s former prime minister
who was now trying to overthrow Wamba along with his former finance minister, John Tibasima. 
Mbusa controls Beni, Tibasima controls the Ituri district.  A few weeks earlier Tibasima had
fomented a mutiny of the Third Battalion, which is mostly Hema, a tribe of Nilotic pastoralists
whose 70-year-old land struggle with the Bantu agriculturalist Lendu has for the first time turned
genocidal, with 7,000 killed last year, perhaps in an aftershock of the big atomic genocide in
Rwanda six years ago. The battalion went to the forest demanding Wamba’s removal, accusing
him of being tribalistic and anti-Tutsi. Wamba dia Wamba is a Mukongo from Bas Congo. Kisuki
spent a few days in jail and was released. A few days later Mbusa and Tibasema launched a putsch
against Wamba with some of the local Mayi Mayi, but were beaten back by the UPDF.
Subsequently they all appeared to have kissed and made up, but the latest (as per Oct. 25 IRIN
bulletin) is that the situation is spiraling “out of control” according to Wamba . Colonel Angina
has been transferred to Wamba’s chagrin (and what does this means for the operation in RFO ?),
and Ugandan officers supporting his rivals and erstwhile deputies Mbusa and Tibasima have taken
the airport and the radio station. 

NO GAS IN BUNIA
      I flew to Bunia that morning, the 27th. The taximan had no gas. We ran out after a quarter of
a
mile, then his battery gave out, and finally the whole vehicle started rattling violently and it took
an hour to get to Morgan’s, the European-style guest house.  Morgan (a Congolais who was
adopted by a Belgian named Morgan) had had four Toyota 4/4’s, with which he had taken tourists
to Epulu, but had been looted by Mobutu’s soldiers, and the guest house was trashed. He was
rebuilding his life little by little. “We live dans un pays Western,” he told me.
     Morgan is a useful contact and ready to be of help. He introduced me to his cousin, Thomas
Luhaka, the RCD’s gentle young vice-commisar of defense, who  came from the diaspora like
most of Wamba’s entourage. He was teaching law at the University of Paris II. Luhaka went to 
Wamba and returned with the news that “the professor will see you at 16:00.”
      Luhaka had no gas, either, so we walked to the sparsely furnished mansion, out on a spur,
where Wamba stays. Wamba knew my work. “He says you are a grand journaliste who writes
things that are justes,” Luhaka told me. I had given an enthusiastic blurb to his son Phillippe
Wamba’s book, Kinship, about Afro-Americans’ quest for their African roots, and had sent word
through Phillipe that I hope one day we would meet. I found Wamba to be much as Robert
Mwinyihali described him :  “calm and  very intelligent. He understands problems intellectually
and puts them in their theoretical context, but he is an academic, not a politician. He says he who
kills the environment is committing suicide, but  he has no means to intervene. Most of his
entourage thinks the forest is there for quick enrichment.” Wamba struck me an ivory tower type
who is surrounded by warlords. He would make a great rector of the university but will never be
president any more than Ilunga, a weak puppet of the Rwandans, will. He spent from l981 to l998
as a professor at the University of Dar Es Salaam teaching African historiography and the history
of  imperialism worldwide, including colonialism and neocolonialism. He was the chairman of the
meeting that created the RCD in August 98, but by the following May he was eased out by a
putsch in Goma and created his own faction. We talked for four hours.
I left with the impression that he has no illusions about his presidentiality and is genuinely
interested in promoting an inter-Congolese dialogue in which everyone sits down at the table and
works out their differences and decides what the new state will be. “Congo’s traditions are
democratic,” he told me. “The Bakongo king was elected by a small college which chose one his
predecessors numerous nephew, so it’s wasn’t hereitary in a sense. Where there wasn’t a king, the
villages had palavers. There wasn’t a real chief with real power, it was more egalitarian. Everyone
sat in the baraza and had their say, and the elders empowered the chief to take action. But then
the Belgians made the chiefs the executors of their corv‚e and other exactions, and they became
petty tyrants.” What Wamba wanted to see was two parliaments. One would be an ethnic
parliament, in which each of 450 ethnic groups, no matter how big or small, had the same vote,
which could decide on how to resolve ethnic questions like  the Hema-Lendu problem, for
instance, could rule who came first and who is entitled to what. Then there would be an elected 
chamber for matters of national scope.
       I observed that  the UNF project offered a golden opportunity for the three rebel factions to
collaborate on an issue of mutual concern, which might lead to greater cooperation and
reconciliation, and for their soldiers to channel their energies into something positive and
patriotic. Wamba agreed. I pointed out that the forests of Haut Congo are some of the last
relatively intact primeval rainforests on earth, and that it would be a mistake to exploit them
prematurely, because they were money in the bank. The trees would only keep growing and
become more valuable, and the next generation of reserachers would have much more
sophisticated means to decode the DNA of the plants, etc.; perhaps the cure for AIDS or cancer
was waiting to be discovered in some fungus. “We have to discover a way of living where we are
not disturbing much of the forest and at the same time are living allright,” Wamba said.  What
practical modalities do you plan put in place to support the UNF project ? I asked. “We will give
guns and training to the guards and control the illegal arms circulating and reintegrate the
deserters. We need Uganda for a while. In Lusaka [the accord of August, l999, in which the
belligerents except for Kabila agreed on a plan for ceasing hostilities and in the case of the foreign
allies, withdrawing from the country],  they have responsibility for maintaining security until we
resolve they should go. Once a liberation movement takes power, if it doesn’t change the politics
of armed struggle the tendency will be to resolve problems violently. Once you have soldiers
outside their country for a long time and no politicians on the terrain to keep them in line the
temptation to steal by force is very great. This very tempting area. There has  to be some political
element that emphasizes the duties of soldiers.” 
       I praised  Kambale Kisuke to the skies and asked Wamba what he thought of him. “Kisuke is
one fellow we want to keep in the new circle,” he said. “Usually we have somebody who deals
with the dossier. If need be we could appoint a specific person to liaise with UNF and the parks.
Kisuke is fine with me. We could appoint some high officer to investigate the d‚gats of the
soldiers. That we could do.” I should point out that Kisuke was not angling for such a position,
nor did I suggest him. The idea just came out in conversation, but it may not be a bad one.
      I told Wamba about a recent discussion I had had with Al Gore about Africa. Gore told me
about a physicist called Prirogine who won the Nobel prize for a new law of thermodynamics
which pertains for open systems (in which the energy flows in and out). When the energy becomes
more than the system can handle, it breaks down, and simultanously  a new, more complex system
starts to develop. This process of “creative destruction” is what Gore thinks is happening in the
environment (excess co2 is wreaking havoc with existing climate regimes and weather patterns),
and in Africa, where the “state,” an invention and an imposition of the Europeans, is breaking
back down into smaller, more meaningful ethnic and tribal groups. Wamba found this take
intriguing. “One has to consider what form this principle of themodynamics expresses itself  in
terms of society,” he said. “If you look at the breakdown of Mobutuism : his notion of geopolitics
was that each group can gather its  fruits and nature, which gives the fruit, will deal with the
maintenance. But here an open system needs feedback and maintenance. In places where there is
not enough space or resources for everybody, the notion of who was here first becomes the ruling
principle, so the ‘Banyawranda’ have become the cause of everything, and the tribal units Gore
may be thinking of are not really there.”
       Even Wamba’s car had no gas, and another one had to be brought around to take me back to
Morgan’s. 
***
     Lusaka came to see me in the morning. He, like Kisuki, is a very good guy, the most sensitive
African minister of defense I’ve ever met and someone the project can work with. Lusaka
remarked that the Congo’s civil war was a relatively soft one, and were it not for foreign troops
intervening and in fact coming to blows themselves [viz the UPDF and RPA’s embarrassing
firefights in Kisangani] it wouldn’t be lasting so long. “The province of Ituri is unique because it
has all four ethnic groups, Bantu, Sudanic, Nilotic, and pygmy,” he told me. “The Tutsi  can be
Congolais, Rwandais, Ugandan, Burundian, or Tanzanian. We call them all Banyawranda. The
Banyamulenge Tutsi were massacred by Mobutu and since the state didn’t protect them they feel
they have to control the apparatus of state. But we say to them you should support the republican
Congolais who considers nationality a juridical, not a biological notion. All Bantu are not
Congolais just as all Tutsi are not Congolais. They are a bit everywhere. That is Wamba’s notion.
The RPF should help us reestablish the authority of the state, the army, and the administration,
and at that point the Republicans can guarantee the rights of all Congolais. Fred Rwigema (the
founding leader of the RPF, who was killed on the first day of its invasion of Rwanda, in October, 
l990) was a republican. He was for le Rwanda pour tout le monde and he was killed by extremists
in his own movement.
     “The replacement of the corrupt RCD command in Mombasa must be accompanied by a big
campaign of sensibilization of the population, and this where we need your help,” Lusaka
continued. “To sensibilize them about the importance of protecting nature and conservation. The
population doesn’t understand that okapis constitute a great treasure for them. Kenya, Egypt, and 
Turkey exist in great part thanks to  money from tourism. If we have peace and the roads are
rehabilitated tourists will bring much money to Epulu.  I am privileged to be a Congolais because
I will leave to my children an inheritance that neither Rockefeller nor Onassis nor Picasso have left
to their heirs. Neither Rockefeller nor Picasso left them okapis, white rhinos, and mountain
gorillas. It’s inestimable as a heritage. If I can make these animals multiply I will be proud of my
life.”
      I called on Faustin Lola Lapi, the Commissar of Agriculture, Rural Development, Fishing and
Forests, which also deals with tourism and the environment. The Commisariat occupies the first
floor a former commercial building partitioned into small cubicles and is obviously sans moyens.
Then I met with the governor of the province, Ernest Uringi Pa-dolo. “We’re behind UNF 100%
if you’re coming to protect our richesses,” he told me. “We will protect your security and the
biens you are bringing. We deplore the absence of a radio-phone at Epulu. It would be great if
some coop‚rant brought the means for us to communicate with them.” I said it would be great if
the insecurity along the roads from Mambasa and Beni could be taken care of. “We have one
jeep,” lamented the governor. “And our other vehicles can’t leave the city, so there is not much
we can’t do about it.” The funds that could have purchased more 4×4’s were absconded with by
Mbusa and Tibasima. The coffers of the RCD-ML are empty. 

GARAMBA
     Morgan’s son drove me to the airport at 3:00. Kes and Frazer Smith, who were coming from
Nairobi, were right on time in their single engine what kind of plane belonging to the Frankfurt
Zoo. With them were their children, Doungu and daughter’s name ?, and their British friend
David Simpson, a freelance editor who works mostly for UNEP and couldn’t have been nicer. (It
is Simpson who calls elephants “ellies” Frazer had brought along some mosquito canopies which
he distributed to the customs and immigration people in return for their not inspecting what else
was in the plane. Even so, it took 45 minutes of haggling and palavering before they let us out of
there. Frazer, a short, stocky South African in his forties wearing shorts and sandals and a khaki
shirt with epaulets, was obviously a pro at this.
     Just as we were becoming airborne, two tanks with  Ugandan soldiers in their cockpits,
looking ultra-cool with shades and with cigarettes dangling  from their mouths,  patched  out of a
hangar adjacent to the passenger building and took off at full tilt down the road into town, tearing
it to pieces. Looking back on it, the coup against Wamba may have already been starting. We got
out of Dodge none to soon. 
     Just of Bunia are the Blue Mountains, where serious inroads are already being made into the
valuable timber (Entandrophragma sp. and Khaya ), and there is I believe some extremely
interesting geology, and after them the landscape is almost undisturbed by humans. There are only
a few huts and shambas and purposeful tracks through the ecotone where the eastern edge of the
Ituri Forest gives way to savanna, and the more numerous, less purposeful tracks of ellies and
other large mammals, meandering through a jumble of granite knobs, koppis as South Africans
call them. We flew over pure rainforest of some stature frothing over a rangelet and along a
gleaming ribbon of water meandering beneath it I spotted a clearing with maybe half a dozen little
domes of thatched mangungu leaf and no shambas   a pygmy camp deep in the forest. Then
Watsa appeared off to the west, where there was recently an outbreak of Mahrberg virus at 
Dodo, the main gold mining camp. 
      “We’re lucky we don’t have the same kind of human pressure as Virunga or Kahuzi Biega
do,” Kes said over the headphones. The tsetse fly is a large part of the reason why there is still a
lot of wildlife in the savannas of central Africa.  Kes is a reserved, intense, extremely capable and
focused and determined red-haired  Englishwoman without an ounce of body, a real-life Katherine
Hepburn, definitely a femme de fer, and the down-to-earth, supremely practical  Frazer is her
Spenser Tracy.  I could see why Frazer and Karl have a great friendship. Kes and Frazer met in
Botwsana, where Frazer was a ranger in one of the parks. 
      Kes started out in Africa as a zoologist examining slides of hippo flesh for parasites, then she
participitated in Ian Douglas-Hamilton’s continent-wide elephant survey, in the course of which
she realized that the rhinos, being far less numerous, were  urgently in need of being located and
protected. She originally thought that she would work in the national parks of southern Sudan,
where there were several hundred northern white rhinos, Cerototherium simum cottoni 
 left. But by the time her grant money, from WWF Holland, was in place, the civil war between
the SPLA and Khartoum spread into the parks and all the rhino were completely wiped out, or
there could be one or two left. So Kes switched her field of study to PNKB, where the last viable
population of the subspecies is hanging on. 
      We crossed the Kibali River, which runs into the Nzoro, which is in the Congo drainage; the
Congo-Sudan border follows the divide between the Nile and Congo basins. North of the Kibali
begin PNG’s domaines de chasse, where the local people– Logo, Azande, Baka, Mondo, Kakwa,
and Lugwara   are allowed to do subsistence hunting with traditional methods  spears, snares,
nets. If they use a firearm, which not a few of them do, it becomes poaching. In the old days,
European and American trophyhunters paid big bucks to bag a buffalo or a hartebeest in the
domaines de chasse. There are some shambas in the domaines. They are technically not allowed,
but tolerated.  The three domaines of mixed savanna-woodland are zones tampon, buffer zones,
for the park itself, which begins  north of the Nagera River. A 4600-km2 island of long-grass
savanna dominated by the Loudetia arundinacea and Hyparrhenia species, with no trees except
the occasional Combretum or sausage-tree that has taken root in the bare circle of a washed-away
termitarium and the gallery forest that lines that crevices and fissures of the well-watered, spring-
rich open plain. This was the very geographical center of the continent, “the bright heart of
Africa,” as Alan Root calls it in his splendid documentary of PNKB, to counter the negative
stereotypes (Conrad’s “heart of darkness,” Stanley’s “darkest Africa”) that have taken hold in the
Western imagination. Big herds of large animals roam in the grass which was now 6 feet tall. 
. The reason for the existence of this island of grass in a sea of trees is debated : is it natural, or
was it cleared by fires set by the local people in the past, or due to the high ellie density which
keeps  saplings from getting anywhere, or a combination of the three ? There are now roughly
6000 ellies, give or take a thousand. In l983, when Kes started working in PNKB, there were
7,500. There was a big wave of elephant and rhino poaching throughout Africa from 1973-84,
and by l985 the PNKB ellie population had hit an all-time low of 4,500. By l995 it had rebounded
to 11,000. Then the civil war came, and it was cut in half. Now it is growing again. Similarly the
buffalo, 25,000 strong in l995, were reduced to 8,000  in early l997, and are now back up to
13,000, (there wasn’t as much poaching in the second war), and the hippos have gone from 3,500
to 800 to 1000, and the rhinos have gone from 29 to 26 to 30. The giraffes have gone steadily
down, however (from 178 to 144 to 118), as have the waterbuck (1700 to 1400 to 1100),
hartebeest, kob, warthog and roan. The animals have been poached out of the northern part or
driven south  by mostly Sudanese poachers. The worst moment was when tk when Kes and
Frazer flew over the Nagera and it was choked with the carcasses of machine-gunned hippos with
their feet in the air in rigor mortis.
        We landed, were greeted by Mbayma Atalia, the conservateur en chef, and taken to park
headquarters, an impressive compound of buildings built to last by the Belgians. PNKB was
created in l938. Before that it had been a station for domesticating elephants. King Leopold’s
dream had been to use elephants for heavy work, like tractors, to build the infrastructure of his
private kingdom in the Congo. He tried unsuccessfully to introduce ellies from India, and the first
local elephants were captured by Lt. La Plume in l901 and a station was set up at Gangala da
Bodio, how many km west of Nagera. In the early days the mother would be shot, and her calf
trained.  There are old fotos of 100 ellies parading with military precision. The ellies were a big
tourist attraction. In l987-8 Kes tried to revive the domestication program, but Mobutu heard
about the two young ellies she was training, Kwanza and Ruby, and requisitioned them. Kwanza
died in the Kinshasa Zoo, the sorriest zoo I have ever seen, and Ruby died in a crate in Isiro, in
which she had spent a month while arrangements for her to be flown to Gbadolite dragged on. By
l998 there were only 3 regularly handled ellies; the others had been set free. One had a baby but
both died, so now there are two. Kes envisions some day elephant-back safaris to tent camps in
the savanna, but it’s hard to get sponsors for that sort of thing, and she has other, more urgent
things on her plate.
      The Smith’s house was idyllically set right on the river. From the lawn we could see a 14-foot
crocodile named Humphrey sunning on a rocky islet and red-throated beeeaters taking off from
branches and performing incredible  aerial acrobatics over the water, black and white colobus
hurtling through the trees across the river. Warthogs browsed under the broad-leaved teak trees
and all night long a pod of hippos harrumphed and groaned and jostled and snorted and bellowed
irritably . We slept under mosquito canopies, but that did not keep me (even though I was taking
Lariam), David, and Doungou from getting falciparum malaria a fortnight later. I am deeply
grateful for David’s advice to pop three fancidars the minute followed by a weeklong cocktail of
two antiobitoic to kill the spirochetes in my liver. . I  a bad night exactly a week after I got back
to Montreal of splitting migraine, high fever and uncontrollable shivering, and by morning I was
already on the road to recovery. 

       Kes explained the evolution of the project : “We had been discussing the problems of doing
surveys in combat areas with the Harts, of practical punctual intervention, guard training and
immediate support for world heritage sites in danger, of expediting getting funds to the field,   and
talking about joint projects for years.” John had published a paper in April 1996 with Jefferson
Hall called “Conservation in the Declining National State : A View from Eastern Zaire;” with
Terese a year later “Conservation and Civil Strife : Two Perspectives from Central Africa;” and in
November l997 “Conservation in Crisis.” Alan Root had put the Smiths in touch with Nick
Lapham, who was looking for projects the UNF could take on,  in l998, and in April of l999, the
ngo partners from all five sites met in Naivasha. Kes and Terry wrote up the concept and
presented it to UNESCO in July, then another meeting in Lenana generated the project document,
and at last November’s UNF board meeting the funding was approved. With Kes as the project
coordinator, I’m sure it will have all the success that can be hoped for.
        We spent a lot of time in the air, looking for rhinos, and the Smiths spotted four new ones 
great news except that two were in one of domaines. They must have crossed the Nagera during
the dry season, before it rose, as rhinos can’t swim, their inability to raise their heads making them
vulnerable to drowning. The adult males have a fixed home range of 30 to 100 km2 while the
subadult male and the females roam over a larger area. They live naturally from 30-40 years, the
males become dominant at 15-20. The northern subspecies differs from the southern, of which
there are still several thousand, in the following ways : it doesn’t lose its hair as an adult, it has
more dorsal concavity, it holds its head higher, and is somewhat smaller and less heavy. It has
been an Appendix One species (total ban on international trade) since IUCN started in the thirties.
Kes said the market for rhino horn, prized in the Arab world as an aphrodisiac, appears to be
shrinking. One researcher reported that a high-priced horn in Cairo wasn’t moving at all. But this
doesn’t make the rhinos of Garamba any less vulnerable. Most of the poaching these days is for
bushmeat, and the poachers and their customers are omnivorous. Buffalo are the first choice, then
ellies, hippos, and the various horned ruminants. The giraffes (Griffa camelopardis congensis,
closest geographically to the Nubian giraffre which it resembles except for its very white legs) are
somewhat protected by a local belief that their meat will give you leprosy. 
      We flew back and forth over the 2600 km2 rhino sector in the southern center of the park.
Looking for 26 rhinos in the tall grass was like looking for a needle in a haystack. We saw ellies in
the hundreds, buffalo and Lewell’s hartebeest by the thousands. Kes had on her lap her hard won
chart of the  individual rhino’s profiles  with their distinctive horn shapes and sizes and facial
wrinkles or the distinctive chunks snipped from their ears while they were darted. The population
is in its third generation since she began to study it in l984. Her methods became progressively
more refined. She gave up radio collars, which the rhinos eventually shook or rubbed off,  for
transmitters inserted in their drilled horns, which she no longer does as to justify the risk of
anesthetizing them she would have to be here all the time, and in l996 the Smiths, after eleven
years and bringing up their children in this incomparable natural setting,  moved to Nairobi and
now only come every few months. Kes must be content with monitoring the rhinos from the air.
“You can see twenty in a day, while on foot it takes two days to spot one. There’s Millenium, the
first rhino to be born this year, Julu’s daughter, and a male  Kengo or Mobolifui  who is not
necessarily Millenium’s father.”
     I tried to imagine what it was like for someone like Kes,  Jane Goodall or Dian Fossey
 to have started such a field study of an animal in the wild entirely on her own, the courage,
character and perseverance that it took. “We’re loners,” Kes explained.”You have to believe
totally in yourself and what you’re doing and to be willing to fight for it.
       Kes explained that her focus over the last decade of necessity has been more on anti-poaching
than research. In l991 the SPLA took the city of Merida. At that point there were only 18 rhinos. 
 7000 refugees poured into the park. A year later there were 80,000 refugees in Dungu and Aba.
“Ever since then the poaching has been getting worse and worse,” Kes told me. “The peak bad
was in l997, when the guards had their weapons taken by the AFDL. The poachers seized the
opportunity and there was a big spike of accrochages [shootouts], almost 40 in l997. Then it
subsided, and shot up again  in the second war  A lot of the poachers were SPLA, and some were
from Congo. We flew over 11 active camps in the rhino sector. For 18 months, from August, l998
to April of this year,  we couldn’t find out what was happening because we weren’t allowed to
have an airplane. We found that the  population had risen to 26. Some had been poached, but we
found 7 new calves, and the number was still 26.” 
        Last summer   SPLA was persuaded to mount a mixed operation with the guards against its
own deserters, which took place this January, with great success except that some of the soldiers
stayed on and lived off the villagers, which caused ill will, food stress and more impetus to poach.
We met the SPLA’s political counseler, a very black, bearded Sudanese man named Hassan (did
you get his last name Kes ?), who was in charge of the “oppression,” which was I think his way of
pronouncing  operation. We were all very curious to find out how the SPLA had been persuaded
to cooperate with the park. “The park is international,” he explained. “It is in  Congo, but it
borders Sudan. The Congolese authorities in Aba complained to the commissioner of Yei [a
county of Sudan that border the park] that too many of our deserters were disturbing their people.
The commissioner sent me to confirm that this was true. I confirmed it, and the commissioner
referred the matter to the high command of the 2nd front, including Colonel Garang [John
Garang,
the SPLA leader], and we were told to go ahead and signed an agreement with Aba to carry out a
joint oppression. So after I spent 105 days in Aba collecting information, 653 soldiers were
deployed, and we got 73 deserters and 27 rifles” which I believe were given to the guards  All this
took place on the southern and eastern periphery of the park. As a result the evidence of poaching
was way down. Last month there had been no gunshots or contacts. A second, smaller
oppression, which had been talked about since January, with 50 SPLA and 21 guards, an 82-
member force in all, was about to get underway in the same area.  Kes was eager for a similar
oppression to happen on the western and southwestern periphery, where most of the poaching is
now happening. But we flew to Dungu and spoke with the commissaire de zone, Sangbalenze,
and he was very against any SPLA “oppression” in his zone. In October, l998 the SPLA came
down and forcibly repatriated about 20,000 of the refugees and in the process committed terrible
d‚gats on the local Azande people. “The population is gen‚e,” Sangbalenze told us. “The
systematic pillage of Dungu by the SPLA was the worst thing Dungu has ever experienced. No
one accepts them as liberators.”
       “The PNG guards have better surveillance capacity than the RFO ones,”  Kes told me.
They’re better armed (100 functional arms  confiscated from poachers and used in shifts) and
better trained  and there are more of them (180). They get into shootouts once a month.  Being
able to use deadly force after firing three warning shots into the air is Kes believes a real
deterrent.  Frazer had arranged several of the best guards from each of the parks to go to South
Africa in October for training by African  Ranger Field Services in how to train the other guards
in the conservation ethic and in bush tactics that would enable them to operate in very small units.
An ARFS mobile training unit will also visit each park.   “The Congolese military only attacks
when they outnumber the enemy,” Frazer explained. Mbayma was sending his guards out in
patrols of 30, which Frazer felt was larger than was needed, as the poachers operated in groups of
8-25-40, but only a few had guns. The rest were porters or butchered and smoked the meat. With
many smaller units Frazer argues that you would get better coverage. He had brought several
models  of small camouflage tent custom-made  for the guards in Nairobi for them to try out 
       I interviewed the chefs de section of the guards, and they had real esprit de corps, real
dedication to la lutte anti-braconnage, as Mbayma called it, although their loyalty must be
constantly reinforced with bonuses. Most of the guards had kept on through the chaos, without
conservateurs, pay, or arms. I suggested that a plaque be prepared, a roll of honor of all the
guards who had been killed or wounded in the course of duty, and placed perhaps on the park’s
50th anniversary monument. IRF could send out a fundraising letter to raise money for the
project,
pensions for the widows, perhaps even life insurance  for the guards. That afternoon one of the
conservateurs presented me with the honor roll, broken down into four categories, which he had
done on his computer. Since l987 6 guards have been killed and 13 wounded in accrochages and
6 killed and 6 wounded by animals. The list did not include Ali Rutarema, the Tutsi magasinier
who was a 20-year employee of ICCN and was killed during the pogrom by Kabila’s soldiers in
August, l998, and I urged that he be added to it. 
    A few guards decided to take advantage of the rare opportunity to help themselves the absence
of conservators provided  and made off with the radio and solar panels at the relay station, and a
few turned to poaching. I interviewed one of these, whose name was Mortimer. When he was
caught in June,  Mbayma had to restrain the guards from beating him to death. Why did you do it
? I asked, after assuring him that he would not be punished for what he said. I just need to know
the truth so I can find out how to help the anti-poaching effort. “Because the ADFL took our
arms and we were getting no salaries of bonuses and the conditions of life were not good,”
Mortimer said. “I saw how much better off  my brothers in the village who were poaching were.
Finally we got our arms back and I used mine to patrol during the day and poach at night. I killed
one warthog and two baboons here, later a hippo and two buffalo in complicity with the guards of
Dodo, and on June 22 I was arrested with six others.” Mortimer for the first time confessed that
his main partner in crime was his brother Minye, who was still a guard. The chefs had been trying
to get this out of him for two months. I wouldn’t want to be in Minye’s shoes. Mortimer was
obviously trying to cut a deal. He was begging for his job back because he couldn’t go back to the
villages where everybody knew he must have talked and he would be killed.
     I spoke with  20 other poachers who were working in Mbayma’s six hectare field, for which he
had big plans. One of them showed me how his fetish, a little carved figurine with a separate
dorsal lid, worked. You rubbed the lid back and forth on the figurine’s back, and if it slid
smoothly, that meant everything would go well, but if you encountered resistance, the hunting
would go badly or you would run into a patrol. Many of the old animistic beliefs persist among
the nominally Christian or Muslim local people. Like the belief that certain witchdoctors known as
Bugulu, who are not unlike the Navajo shape-shifters, become lions after they die or even before.
You can’t tell the difference between a Bugulu and a real lion, one of the chefs de section assured
me. “I knew this young Bugulu named Dusa who turned into a lion.” How did you know the lion
was Dusa, I asked. “Because four days after he died  his grave was dug up and then this lion
appeared in the vicinity.”
      Mbayma showed me where he was shot in the hand during an accrochage, and the three
places on his torso where he was hit by shrapnel from a grenade. Mbayma makes a strong first
impression, but the coop‚rants, not only those in situ, have serious reservations about him.  His
Congolais colleagues, however,  PNV’s Laurent Muhindo, who is his father-in-law and is 
regarded by the coop‚rants as one of the best conservateurs, and Mburanumwe, the ICCN
coordinator, spoke highly of him.  Mbayma is a people-come-first conservationist.  50 of the
guards were on the verge of retiring, and his plan was to settle them around the six-hectare
shamba where they could grow their own food with enough surplus to raise money for a school so
the children of the guards wouldn’t have to be sent away to “relatives who could abuse them.” He
was also planting the same shamba-rejuvenating legumes that are in the experimental stage at
Epulu. He felt strongly that it was important to take good care of the retired guards, because the
guards will see what awaits them when they reach that age. At the moment they are given a
bicycle and $300 by WWF and the promise of  medical care at the station and turned loose.
Mbayma said they couldn’t go back to their villages, after all the poachers they had put away.
Plus the strong ones could become very effective poachers themselves. Frazer argued that they go
to their villages all the time and wasn’t in favor of their staying at the station with all their
dependents because that could cause problems, including poaching. He thought they could be
settled along one of the roads outside the park and given a house and a small consideration in
return for keeping it up.. I wondered whether they might not be useful in sensibilizing the local
population to have greater respect for the park and its wildlife. Mbayma told me about one retired
guard who returned to his village on the Sudan border and was so appalled by the blatant
poaching that was going on that he started to speak out against it. On day a delegation of
poachers came to silence him but he wasn’t there. They were told to return that night and in the
meantime a militia of the village’s youth was recruited to ambush them and take their weapons.
Now the militia, led by the retired guard, is cleaning up the poaching in the vicinity.
       Kes acknowledged the need for “more realistic community-based conservation programs,”
which are in vogue with funders these days. Having devoted so many years to assuring the
survival of the rhinos, she now views the animal as a “flagship” species that attracts funding and
attention to a much broader spectrum of problems which she is now, as the driving force and
coordinator of  the UNF project, trying to tackle.  She told me about a plan that   Emmanuel de
Merode, a social anthropologist or what, Kes ? had worked out with Sangzbalenze  for
reinforcing authority of the the local chefs coutoumiers and investing them in the park by letting
them issue the permits for traditional hunting and fishing in the domaines de chasse. Mbayma was
against this, because the chefs coutoumiers are a big part of the problem, as they are in the RFO,
PNG, and PNKB, and giving them control of the domaines would open the domaines to all kinds
of abuse. But he was in favor of the controlled sale of game hunted by traditional means. “We
need to integrate the people into the park,” he argued. “The only thing we are doing is policing,
we are never giving the people advantages.” Kes is not in favor of any sale of bushmeat. “When
you start to put monetary value on wildlife, it encourages exploitation. Subsistence hunting is
sustainable, but sale accelerates the destruction. All the evidence in Africa is that once you start
selling bushmeat the animal populations are reduced to the point of extinction.”
     “But bushmeat is already sold clandestinely in places like Aba and Durba, and openly in many
villages. The people are already selling more than they eat,” Mbayma countered.
     “I propose that we get rid of the poaching,” Kes suggested. “Then we can have controlled
sale.”
     “If we clean up all the poaching, we will be out of work and the ngo’s will stop funding us, so
we had better not do too good a job,” was Mbayma’s sardonic rejoinder.
***
     I was eager to see what this dreamy tableau with  processions of ellies and huge assemblages
of buffalo wandering through it, this bird’s eye view of the Genesis chapter 1 which we had only
been seeing from the air, was like on the ground, and the opportunity came on Saturday the first
when  we flew to Camp Namibira, where Kes did her radio collaring and telemetry and Frazer hid
out for two months at one point during the chaos. The plane touched down, scattering  a vast
herd of short-eared kob, whose mass migrations in southern Sudan rival (or rivaled until a few
years ago when most of them were shot out ?) that of the wildebeest. There were some Lewell’s
hartebeest mixed in. The dominant male kob has a harem, and the young males form what is
known as a lek, standing  guard on the periphery of the herd, in the dry season spacing themselves
out from each other and looking beautiful in the hopes of attracting a passing female. We
wandered through the tallgrass. The roll of the savanna was not unlike many of the flatter parts of
England; sans all the large mammals this could almost have been Buckinghamshire.  The camp
was on the edge of a spring-fed stream that we bathed in, little fish nibbling at our toes.  Frazer
cranked up his satellite phone and called John Lucas, IRF’s chairman, at the board meeting he was
presiding over at White Oaks and gave him the good news : no shootouts or contacts last month. 
    “This is going to be one of the camps you will be able to ride an elephant to, once tourism gets
started again,” Kes told me. “Now you see why we love this place.”

PNV
 
      Then following day, September 2, we flew back to Bunia where unbenownst to us the putsch
against Wamba was in progress.  The airport authorities and the  customs and the immigration
authorities (two separate authorities) extorted $20 apiece from each of us for an exit visa, and
another $200 (? Frazer) for clearance of the plane, then we continued southwest nonstop for five
hours to Nairobi. The roofs went from all thatch in Congo, to some thatch some metal in Uganda,
to all metal in Kenya. It was like coming from the barbarian backlands of Gaul back to Rome. 
       In a nice restaurant in the bougainvillea-festooned suburb of Karen I met Mafuka Girineza,
the conservateur principal (number two after Mbayma, the conservateur en chef) of PNG and
Kes’s co-coordinator for the UNF partner. He is a Congolese Hutu and thus a Munyawranda and
is scared to return to PNG and to meet the same fate as Ali Mutarama. “They will ask why I
stayed after the first war. You must be a collaborator of the Rwandans,” he explained. 
“They’re going to kill me and make it look like braconniers or something.” 
       We were joined by Annette Langouw, a jolly beaming blonde Dutch woman, very up and
positive, the least ferrous of the femmes de fer. Annette is a great-ape primatologist with 16 years
experience in the Congo and runs the IGCP program in PNV. She started her career by
habituating  chimps at Tongo, in the park’s southern sector, where there would be a refugee camp
of 100,000 Rwandans after the genocide of l994. Then she studied bonobos, the only pygmy
chimps in the world, in Equateur. She spent a few years ? at PNG and helped set up CEPRECOF
at RFO. 
       PNS is the biggest, she told me, but PNV is the longest and has the greatest diversity of
habitat, from Afro-alpine to lowland forest, from savanna to volcanic, very dry and sclerophyllous
to very moist and lush. There are huge swamps in the center and the northern part of the southern
area. The western arm of the Great Rift Valley, a large part of which is in the park,  is the water
catchment for the  mountains on both sides of it, and the water comes bubbling up through the
porous volcanic rock on the valley floor and forms swamps and lakes that eventually feed the
Nile.  PNV is the oldest park in Africa, created in l928, two years before Kruger. The original
Park Albert comprised what is now Rwanda’s Parque des Volcans and was the headquarters of
the entire park system in the Belgian Congo and Ruanda-Urundi (including the once-magnificent
Kagera Park in Rwanda, two thirds of which has been given over to resettlement of Banyawranda
returning from exile.). PNV is also the most embattled, or at least it has the greatest diversity of
impact : negative forces (Interahamwe, Mayi Mayi, NALU, ADF, ex-FAZ, ex-FAR, ex-FAC),
invading agriculturalists, fishermen,  pastoralists, and i.d.p.’s  and refugees (Rwandan Hutu,
though most of them have been repatriated).
         The park has 4 sectors : 1) the northern , north of Lake Edward; 2)the central, from the 
top of Lake Edward to Rutshuru and Rwindi; 3) the eastern, east of Lake Edward to the Uganda
border; and 4) the southern, from Rutshuru to Goma..  In 1) (see also the information from
Kambale Kisuki on p. 6) two thirds of the northern sector, including the Ruwenzori and the forest
o Watalinga, is conrolled by NALU and ADF rebels whose depredations have been going  on
since long before the wars. Since the first war local chef coutoumiers have been inciting the
population to reclaim their ancestral lands in the park. There have been no salaries since l996 and
many guards have quit. The UNF project will be paying 460 guards in all 4 sectors— a huge
contribution.  Mount Tchaberimu west of Lake Edward has  13 or 18 lowland gorillas, depending
on who you talk to, supported by the DFGF under Katembo Vitale,  on its 45 remaining forested
hectares which shambas are eating away at. It is not a viable population because it can’t expand.
    In  2) south of Lake Edward elephants have been fleeing the mayhem to Uganda’s Queen
Elizabeth Park. The fishing villages on Lake Edward are mushrooming. There are now 18,000
fishermen at Kavinyonge and Vitshumbi, at the bottom of the lake, is similarly overpopulated.
3700 Hema pastoralists from Uganda (where they are known as Hima), escorted into the park
from Uganda by UPDF troops, have overrun secteur Kararuma and the domaine de chasse de
Rutshuru. The 150,000 i.d.p.’s between Kanyabayongo and Lubero include Congolais Hema from
Ituri District, but most of them are Nande  fleeing Interahamwe who have been terrorizing the
villages along the western edge of the park. The Interahamwe are armed and provisioned by
planes from Khartoum (according to the RPF’s Patrick Mazimhaka), which is Kabila’s ally. There
are also Mayi Mayi.  A horrendous humanitarian crisis is looming here because no one can get to
these i.d.p.’s with food aid. All these people increase the demand for bushmeat. Hippo meat is
sold openly in Kanyabayongo, Rutshuru, and Kavinyonge.
     3) has its headquarters at Lulumbi, on the eastern shore of Lake Edward. The conservateur
principal is Timpungi. of Lake Edward. This is where the Jean-Pierre d’Huart did his hippo
studies, and where U.S. maintains  a high resolution  satellite surveillance station like the one they
also have set up in the Brazilian Amazon to monitor fires and drug-smuggling) .
     4) is relatively stable, although security even along the road to park headquarters at
Rumangabo varies from day to day. In the international gorilla area where Congo, Rwanda, and
Uganda meet, 78 guards are being paid salaries and bonuses by IGCP to keep a close eye on the
gorillas.  But a few weeks earlier the station at Jomba was attacked, even though 32 guards and
their families were there. One guard was killed, another kidnaped, and some of the guns were
made off with. But since then it’s been calm.  Now a 1000 RPA are said to be sweeping the area
for insurgents. The Virunga gorilla population was 320 in l989. No one has been able to get in
and census them since. It moves freely between PNV and Parques des Volcans. Karisoke, Dian
Fossey’s research station in the saddle between Visoke and Karisimbi volcanos, is in ruins. On the
Rwanda side tourism has resumed. 16 tourists a day, escorted by gendarmes, go to see the
gorillas. This is the safest and most accessible way to see mountain gorillas. Tourism resumed in
April in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, where the tourists were murdered in l999. The
Bwindi population was conservatively estimated in l997 at  292 by WCS’s Alistair MacNeilage
(infants don’t poop in their nests and are harder to pick up, and a few groups could have been
missed). That tallies with the WWF’s rougher 280-300 estimate  in the early 90s. It is cut off from
the Virunga one by 25 km. of lowland agriculture. These two populations are the last mountain
gorillas in the wild. 
     PNV is closed to tourists, and Annette was not keen on my attempting to see the gorillas from
the Congo side or to even enter the park. “If something happens, it would set the resumption of
tourism back another few years.” I couldn’t entice Annette to go with me into the park and she
had no immediate plans to go there herself. In August l998, nine days after the start of the second
war, 6 tourists  one Brit and five New Zealanders  went to see the gorillas at Jomba and
returning to their vehicle found it torched. All six were taken hostage. Four were released two
weeks later with an statement of their captors’ demands to be read over the BBC, which the BBC
refused to do, the fate of the other two is still unknown.
        Masisi, on the southern edge of the park,  has been a cauldron of Interahamwe resistance
since the genocide. Tens of thousands of Congolais Banywranda i.d.p.’s, mostly Hutu,  from 
Masis   had been flooding into Sake, which was not much more secure, and from there to Goma,
and the area around Rutshuru was volatile. You could not drive through the forest west of
Rutshuru to Beni without risking attack by negative forces. A few weeks earlier a convoy
including trucks of TMK, the local airline, was ambushed, all the vehicles were torched and 4
were killed.
      Annette thought there should eventually be  an international UN peacekeeper-type force to
protect the World Heritage sites. But Kabila is not well disposed to the U.N., I pointed out,
although he is to conservation, according to Kes who was impressed by Kabila’s enthusiastic
endorsement of her initiatives to protect the parks when she met him when and in connection with
the project or what ?  While RCD-Goma, according to Mafuko, “is only concerned with
conservation in terms of international criticism. Its priority ‡’est la guerre.”
     “If the RCD is only interested in conservation for political reasons, that’s fine,” Annette
argued. “It wants international good will and recognizes that if it takes clear environmental
precautions it will look very well for them.” 
***
    I flew to Kigali and from there drove to Goma, where I dropped in on the WWF project. IGCP
is a coalition of WWF, the African Wildlife Federation, and Flora and Fauna International, so
WWF is involved in supporting the guards. But it also has  education, reforestation, seed-
distribution  and mushroom-growing  programs. The UNF funds for PNV will be flowing through
WWF. I found the staff turned on by what they were doing, and eager to explain their work to an
unannounced visitor. (Annette having just returned from vacation and Anecto Kayitare, the
IGCP’s liaison, having just lost his mother and taken emergency leave, nothing had been set
up).”We’re a success story. We’re at war and still succeed at protecting the  the park,” Rosie
Kabeya, IGCP’s assistant administrator, told me. Jeanne Masika Sa-inne gave me issue number 4
of Kacheche, the nature and conservation magazine that WWF prints 70,000 copies of and
distributes them to local schoolchildren. Kacheche is the African pied wagtail, as common and
brazen as blue jays in these parts and locally believed to be the bearer of good news. This was the
first issue since publication was suspended by the genocide and its devastating aftermath in Goma
six years ago.
      Yowa Winder, whom I called on at ORCHA, belongs to the humanitarian subspecies of the
courageous white woman in Africa (as opposed to the conservationist subspecies of which Terese
and Kes are outstanding examples.). She writes many of the IRIN bulletins and is on top of the
day to day conditions, the agonizing birthpains of this country. There are half a million i.d.p.:s in
North Kivu, one sixth of the population, she told me : Masisi has 50,000, mainly Hunde and
Congolese Hutu, Rutshuru another 15-20,000. 20,000 mostly Nande are spread out between
Kanyabayongo and Beni, another 100,000 on the Lubero road, 120,000 mostly Lendu by the
Hema-Lendu conflict.
        Kate Farnsworth of USAID Disaster Relief  is as gutsy Yowa and as plugged in, a very
sharp and caring woman who lives out of a suitcase, as she put it, shuttling from one trouble spot
to the next. . Kate was trying to get to Kanyabayonga, then she was going to see Bemba in
Gbadolite, then she was going down to Uvira, where a new  slaughter of the Banyamulenge had
begun. “I’ve been telling the RCD you will be judged by how you deal with conservation and
humanitarian issues. These are big-button issues in the international community,” she told me.
       “Most of the people in Bukavu would call themselves Mayi Mayi, i.e. against the RCD and
the Rwandans. [In Goma the opposition to the occupation is less vociferous.] There are many
Mayi Mayi barriers between Beni and Kanyabayongo. We’re trying to create humanitarian space,
getting the message to the chefs coutoumiers who personally have to connect with the Mayi Mayi
there so we can get in.”
      Kate thinks Rwanda would be “willing to pull out if conditions where right, while Uganda has
a far more economic interest. Which is not to say that individuals in the Rwandan army are not
making a shitload of money. But [Rwanda’s president] Kagame does not sanction the rape of the
country. As his councilor Charles Murigande told the BBC recently, these are individuals who are
not implementing state policy.” 
     What do you know about coltan ? asked I.
     “It’s used for high tech electronics, microchips for computers, in addition to missile warheads.
Germany, not the States is the biggest purchaser. It used to be exported lumped in with the less
taxed caciterite and then be extracted.”
     Kate confirmed what Murigande had told me, that most of the arms provided to the
Interahamwe in the Kivus come from Tanganyika, crossing Lake Tanganyika to Boma. The
brigadier general who is chief of staff of the Tanzanian army oversees this traffic, but he is not
implementing state policy either.  “Who is checking this out ? What is being done ?” she asked. “If
there’s going to be peace in the Kivus, the Interahamwe must be gotten out.” 
    “The second war is far more complicated and ugly,” she went on. “The solutions are far more
complex because there are no many non-state actors and fewer carrots and sticks. A lot is going
on under the surface.” She had just heard that the RPA was making overtures to the Mayi Mayi.
She had also heard that Kabila may have gotten biological weapons from North Korea. “Kabila
feels he now has the upper hand because of his recent inroads in Equateur. But if Zimbabwe pulls
out the rebels will go for the jugular.” But the latest news is that Zimbabwe has reaffirmed its
support to Kabila in the defense of Mbandaka, support bought by giving Zimbabwe concessions 
the mineral riches of Shaba.
      Goma is the administrative headquarters for ICCN in eastern Congo. No longer controlled by
Kinshasa, ICCN’s activities and presence in the east are overseen by Anicet Mburanumwe, whom
I met that evening with Stanislas Bahinake, ICCN’s director for North Kivu province, and
Wathaut Wabubindja Miya Alexandre, the chef de station (Rutshuru) for PNV’s central sector.
Mburanumwe is “the chief of conservation for all of eastern congo,” one of his deputies told me.
Then come Bahinake and Norbert Mushenzi, the provincial director for South Kivu.
Mburanumwe has been in conservation for 40 years. He knew George Schaller (and produced an
affectionate letter Schaller sent him in l988) and Dian Fossey at Rumangabo, Kes when she was
just starting out at Garamba. “We called her teasingly Mama Faru. Kifaru is a rhino.”  He
subscribed to the theory advanced in a new book, Murder In the Mist, that Fossey was killed by
the mayor of Ruhengeri “Zed” the brother of President Habyarimana’s wife Agathe. “Zed had une
arrogance extraordinaire,” Mburanumwe told me.  “Dian chewed him out publicly, an intolerant
affront for which he ordered her death.”
        Dian’s way of dealing with African authorities was to throw a hysterical shitfit. The new
generation of expatriate field biologists are more sensitive, socially adept, and people-oriented.
They realize that you have to deal with the guerillas before you can protect the gorillas.  It’s a
Shakespearean situation, not a Thoreauvian one (which posits a false dichotomy between man and
nature   the world view of old-school conservationists). The gorillas and the guerillas are in
there together. 

        Both Mburanumwe and his late wife, an important d‚put‚e from Rutshuru, 
were “of Rwandese expression,”to use one of the terms for Congolais Banyawranda, and when
Kabila declared his pogrom on the Tutsi they were imprisoned in Kinshasa. But they managed to
escape, only for Mburanumwe’s wife to die a few weeks later. He showed me a photograph of
her. 
       “Virunga is really four separate parks,” he told me.  “Maiko is almost abandoned. It has a
pocket of precious materials, gold and diamonds, that were being exploited long before les
‚vŠnements. 
We must learn to reconcile exploitation or our riches with protection. We are like a shipwreck. If
we eat all the biscuits, we will die. There must be integrated conservation, tied to the development
of the population. 
        Bahinake did not advise going to see the gorillas. It would take several days, and the road
from Rumangabo to Jomba was terrible and the security impr‚visible. Since Guy de Bonnet and
Christine had told me there would be no problem seeing the gorillas in PNKB, and since I had
already sat en famille with mountain gorillas on the Rwanda side in l986, I didn’t insist.
But the road to Rumangabo, according to the latest reports, was safe. I could go there in the
morning and see Laurent Muhindo, the conservateur en chef.  So the next morning, the 5th, I set
out with Wathaut and four young RCD soldiers, courtesy of Vizima Karaha,  in Mburanumwe’s
Land Cruiser. We passed the desolate site of  Kibumba, one of the refugee camps where 250,000
Rwandans were kept going for two years by the UNHCR and humanitarians without any attempt
to disarm the Interhamwe or Ex-Fax in them, even though to qualify for refugee status according
to the U.N.’s definition you have to have surrendered your arms. But the UNHCR was
overwhelemed. It didn’t have the moyens to deal with a crisis of such magnitude. 
Many people in the Kivus fault the UN for the nightmare that the breaking up of the camps
unleashed  in eastern Congo. 
       “The Interahamwe is not a person,”Wathaut told me. “In my secteur, in the forest 23 km
from Ruthshuru, they put up a barrier and burned a truck last month, killing all four passengers.
We have 173 guards but no bonuses, and they are making a big contribution, working without
motivation. Some are quitting because of famine [i.e. not having money to buy food].” 
      The refugees had devastated 10 km of the forest on the slopes of Nyiragongo volcano for
firewood. “We had a police that was supposed to prevent them. The refugees told us   UNHCR
gives us food and shelter but pas de bois. On va manger ‡a comment ?”  Wathaut went on.  “We
explained to the refugees that we were not here not here to persecute them but our job to was
protect the resources and prevent braconnage. We shot in the air to scare the refugees and they
just giggled and kept on devastating.” The scalped forest was coming back fast in the rich
volcanic soil. Nyiragongo erupted in l979. Several elephants were overcome by the lava and when
I passed through two years later, I was shown where their relative would come and commune
with them and defecate on their bones locked in the now hardened magma.
      Behind Nyiragongo was Nyamulagira, which erupted for three months this year, beginning on
the 27th of February, and was still smoking.  To the right was steep-sided. Mikeno volcano where
Karl Akeley collected the gorillas for the diorama at the American Museum of Natural History in
the 20s and where Schaller did most of his gorilla research. Rumangabo is about 40km from
Goma. Mburanumwe had radio-telephoned the conservateur en chef, Laurent Muhindo,  and he
sent one of his assistant conservateurs to meet us at Rugari and escort us the rest of the way to
the station, the old mother station of the Belgian Congo and Ruanda-Urundi, the once-grand but
still solid buildings clustered on a knoll with views  of  spectacular rainforest and volcanos in
every direction. 
      Laurent greeted me, and several dozen of the guards snapped to attention and paraded smartly
for us. “You see how organized the guards are when they get a little support,” Wathaut said. 
The shelves of the large library were empty, all the books having been used for fires by the various
occupying forces, and the seismological station was trashed. There was no power so computers
can’t be used. (If this situation is to be rectified, solar would seem the way to go.) 
        Muhindo is regarded by the expatriate partners as one of the best conservateurs. “That is
because he is paid,” Mburanumwe claims. (There seemed to be some tension between
Mburanumwe and Muhindo, at least on Mburanumwe’s part. The tension may be ethnic. At one
point Mburanumwe told me, “Muhindois lying and that is because he is a Nande.”)  Muhindo’s
magasinier opened his storeroom where there were some recently seized tusks and a rack of old
American 30.30’s that lacked ammunition. 
        Below  the virgin forest of Nyamulagira spread for miles, which Muhindo was full of poches
de r‚sistance incivique that sometimes attacked vehicles on the Rumangabo-Goma road. He
estimated that there could be as many as 40,000 Interahamwe and other forces n‚gatives in the
park. “It is hard to tell who was who because they all wear the same uniforms, the forces
n‚gatives wear the ones they have stolen from the RPA and the RCD, and the RPA whenever
they want to commit gaffes, they use short guys.” To the local people they are all the same. They
are Rwandans.  Probably a thousand Interahamwe etc. are enconsced in the forest in the secteur
of Mikeno, where there are five guard posts from which 78  guards make daily reports on the
movements of 73 habituated gorillas and encounters with poachers of insurgents or other wildlife.
I was shown an impressively detailed handwritten report on the August patrols, with maps and
stars for accrochages. A conscientious guard in secteur Mikeno can make $70 a month with
primes. 
     Muhindo asked why the conservateurs didn’t get bonuses too, a point also raised by
Mburanumwe. “How can the shepherd lead his flock if he is starving ?” He also said that at
Rwindi the RPA had a training camp for local self-defense militia to drive out the Interahamwe in
their area, and that it is was being supplied by 5 buffalo and 15 antelopes a day. “We have
complained to RCD-Goma,” he said, but so far to no effect.
      There were definitely air drops to the Interahamwe, he said. Later I heard from Patrick
Mazimhaka that planes from Khartoum were doing most of it. 
       Muhindo thanked me “for having to come and see the realities and the difficulties,” and I
returned to Goma.

 CATASTROPHE IN PNKB

       That night Mburanumwe told me that yesterday at 5 in the morning a mapping commission
with an escort of 32 RCD soldiers was attacked  by presumed Interhamwe while surveying
PNKB’s borders. 9 were killed, four taken hostage including three conservateurs. The
conservateur en chef, Kasereka, was missing. I was looking forward to decompressing at PNKB,
my last stop, which seemed the safest of the parks, at least the 5% of the original, highland part
that was “controlled.” But all of Sith Kivu was a powderkeg at the moment, and PNKB, being so
close to Bukavu, was extremely vulnerable and in fact under assault by the negative forces and
their rich and powerful local collaborators.  The week before, a grenade had gone off in the
central market of Bukavu, killing several shoppers and wounding many more.  Suspects were
rounded up from  the opposition to the RCD and were tortured into confessing. Hatred of the
Banyawaranda and the RCD were reaching the boiling point. The talk was beginning to sound
ominously genocidal.  Most of the population were secretly supporters of Kabila, and were
looking forward to the day when the Interahamwe left the Kivus and returned to Rwanda and
finished the genocide and took vengeance on the Nilotics for what they had done in Congo for
them. 
      And now this catastrophe. 
      I flew down to Bukavu the following morning, the 26th. The airport is an hour from town 
the nearest flat spot, where the hills don’t come right down to the lake.  Carlos Schuler had sent
one of GTZ’s land cruisers, and we drove through allees of tall eucalyptus, a  postvolcanic
landscape reminiscent of Michoacan, Mexico. The population density here, between Lake Kivu
and the park, is 750 per km2, one of the highest in the RCD and the hills were dry and dusty,
having been completely denuded of trees. 
      GTZ is headquartered in a lush quartier of old Belgian villas right on the lake. I found Carlos
in his office in a charming brick and timber chalet. The administrator and financial officer of the
GTZ’s project with PNKB, he  was beside himself. “This is the worst thing that has happened in
15 years,” he told me. “Things have been going so well. 9 are dead and many have disappeared,
including Kasereka Bishikwabo, the chef de parque and two other conservateurs, Aim‚ and
Bakongo. These are people we worked with very well.” We were interupted by a call from
Carlos’s superiors.    Noyn tot und leuteren nicht gefunden, he reported in Swiss-accented
German. GTZ is an agency of the German government, the Germany’s counterpart USAID. This
means that the flow of funds is steadier than at PNG, say, where Kes has to hustle for grants, but
the GTZ has to be more careful about what it gets involved in, and Carlos’s hands are perhaps a
bit more tied than he would like.
        Carlos sounded like he was ready to throw in the towel. 15 years of carefully building human
resources may have just gone down the tubes.  “It is impossible to work here in this complete
absence of human rights and degradation of human values. All this  is caused by the international
community. Ils s’en foutent.  They nourished the Interahamwe in the camps and now the
Interahamwe are everywhere killing people and looting.  UNHCR said it would help us and
instead it brought us war. €’est la poubelle. We are neutral and our collaborators are not being
respected.” 
         I had come at the worst time. “Everything was set for your visit,” Carlos told me. “Now– I
hope you understand   this is not the priority. I have to find out what happened before I can
decide what to do about it and what to say  and write about it.”  In addition, a German t.v. crew
was coming from Nairobi that day for a long-scheduled visit to the gorillas.
        So Carlos sent me to Guy de Bonnet’s villa on the lake, where I would be staying, while he
sorted things out. It was a heavenly spot, an African version of Cap Ferat. Birds chorused and
breezes off the water rustled in the bougainvillea, all night long fishermen sang and shouted as
they cast nets from dugouts several miles out for two kinds of glittering 3″ sardines. 
         Kahuzi Biega was created in l969 by Carlos’s late father-in-law, Adrian de Schryver, a
legendary figure in South Kivu. His daughter Christine, Carlos’s wife, is the chef de bureau for all
of GTZ’s projects in South Kivu. Besides supporting the guards, GTZ has built 38 schools and 3
dispensaries around the park, which as a means of buying conservation with infrastructure are of
limited success as the parents still have to go into the forest to get money for pay for the services.
“The local ‚conomie sociale still has to be developed,” Carlos told me. GTZ also has a water-
purification program for Bukavu and a social development in Kabare, between the Bukavu and
the park. 
       Christine is tall, striking woman, a  tropical beauty in her gawdy Congolais pagnes,  who is
kind of like a mother hen, making sure that all the people in her charge are taken care of.
Christine’s mother is a Shi, one of the local tribes to which young women of the Rwandese
aristocracy who got pregnant out of wedlock were traditionally sent and she looks sufficiently like
a Tutsi that it is dangerous for her. “I’ve had a grenade held against my chin twice, once in each
war,” she told me. Now she doesn’t leave town, even to go to the park’s headquarters at
Tshivanga. She and Carlos have three children whom they home-school with 11 other expat
children in a French correspondance course. The Schulers have deep roots in Bukavu and aren’t
going anywhere, no matter what. As Carlos told me,  “We don’t live in Nairobi or come from the
States or Europe every few months. We live this every day.”
      “Father came here at the age of 9,” Christine told me. “His parents were colons. He didn’t like
to study and never went further than high school. He was an adventurer. He became a self-taught
primatologist and habituated the family of Kasimir and learned to fly so he could survey the park.
My brother runs the air freight company he started. He could tell you a lot about coltan. He flies
it. I would check with the dispatche du coltan at Kigali airport. Some of it goes to Belgium with
Sabina. Some of it leaves with South African Airlines. 
      “Schaller came here a lot when I was a child, and I knew Dian Fossey well. She didn’t like us
kids. She didn’t like people period.” (In my September, l986, Vanity Fair article on her murder, I
learned that she  would whip with stinging nettles the testicles of pygmies she caught laying
antelope snares in the Parque des Volcans,  because the gorillas would sometimes get caught in
them, and that she may have been raped by Zairian soldiers, which would explain her intense
dislike of Africans, whom she called “woggipoos.”) 
      “Father’s parents had a tea and coffee plantation near what is now the park and he always
worked with the pygmies. They are our best pisteurs. He did a lot for the pygmies. If  elephants
were trampling their shambas, once or twice he shot the bull. He went native. He refused to go to
Europe or to be treated with Western medicine. He always went to the pygmies.” But he also saw
the need for the gorillas to be protected. The pygmies needed gorilla blood for the protective
scars they cut on their newborn children, and zoos were buying baby gorillas, which meant that
the adults protecting them were killed, and the poaching was uncontrolled. So he persuaded
Mobutu to set aside the 600 km.2 of the highland part. In l972 the lowland part was added and
PNKB was expanded to 6000km2. The two parts were  connected by a narrow 40-kilometer-long
corridor which has recently been breached by illegal farms.
       “In l989 my father was killed for the park,” Christine went on. “He was poisoned. We don’t
know by whom but he was passionate for the park and very extrŠme dans la protection de la
nature. When he found cows in the park, he gave their owners three warnings and the fourth time
he opened fire with a Kalashnikov. He died after 4 or 5 hours of agony. I always told my brothers
if you find out who killed him, don’t tell me, because I would become a murder myself.”
      PNKB, Maiko, and the intervening area ( Mount Tchaberimu with its 13-18 grauerii)  contain
the largest concentration of lowland gorillas on the planet. In l995 Jefferson Hall estimated the
population in and adjacent to the lowland part of  PNKB at 14,000. Now there are probably less
than half that number, if  the elephant poaching rate (they have gone from 107 in l996 in the
highland part to zero this year) and the decline by almost half of the gorilla population in the 
highland part are any indication. In l990 there were 258 in the highland part, in l996 245-86, and
this August Omari Ilangu found evidence 130-143. And this is in the “controlled” five percent of
the park. The lowland part is uncontrolled, unpatrolled, and infested with negative forces. There
are an estimated 20 bands of 2-3000 Interahamwe in and around the park, two factions of  Mayi
Mayi, 2500 coltan miners, for all of whom bushmeat is a major source of food. There are a
airstrips at Punia, Walikale, Nzovu, Isangi, and Lulingu among others places. Coltan is picked up
at Punia by planes or helicopters by RPA officers and flown directly to Kigali. The highest grade
coltan is from Lulinga, according to Christine, and it may be picked up by Zimbabweans. The
RCD and the RPA are in theory in control of these strips, but don’t have a permanent presence
except it seems at Punia, and when they are not around, they may be used by the other side.
Terese Hart thinks the whole situation in the lowland part is fishy and suspects that there could be
an agreement, a division of spoils among the warring parties, that the Interhamwe or Mayi Mayi
could even be selling coltan to the RPA. There are certainly strong links between the Interahamwe
and the ex-FAR in the forest and the Bukavu business community. There are a lot of unanswered
questions about these strips : who uses them, who controls them, why hasn’t the RCD/RPA got
them under their control ? 
       To get further insight into the coltan trade I went to see Kotecha, a rich Indian trader who
buys and sells the stuff, but he was abroad. His representative, K. Krishna Kumra, told me, “We
are a pretty big coltan buyer. We move 3-4 tons a month. The biggest buyers are the Rwandese
military. They buy directly from the miners, pay maybe $10 a kilo and move 100 tons. There are
15 more buying counters like us in Bukavu [in the quartier populaire  of Essence, I found three
small comptoirs with signs that said Achat Coltan Caciterite], and others in Goma and Bunia [But
my impression is that most of the coltan in eastern Congo comes from South Kivu and goes out
through Bukavu.] The best quality is from Kakelo and Mobi also has good quality. What the
soldiers don’t get is brought to us by middlemen, ‘commission agents,’ 10-12-20 of whom will
charter a plane and fly out to one of the strips in the forest and bring it to Bukavu and see who
will give them the best price. We powder the coltan and test it for quality. Top grade is 45% pure.
We pay $45 a kilo. We crush it but don’t refine it (there are others in Bukavu who refine it and
sell it separately; we don’t buy from them)  and sell it to other middlemen who take it to London
and sell it for about $110 a kilo to the best international bidder  Germany, Belgium, the United
States, Canada. The soldiers who take it to Kigali sell to buyers there who sell to Europe. Even if
it’s stolen it’s very organized and done with the blessing of the topmost level of government.
They have some front companies in Kigali. There are rumors Kagame gets a share. He must get
some reward or it could not be operating on such a large scale. People say the coltan is used to
finance the war. 
       “We started buying in the last quarter of l998 but others have been buying for 5-6 years,”
continued Kumra. “In those days no one knew the value of the stuff so it sold for peanuts. It has
no daily quote on the stock exchange. It is used in armaments and microchips, and it is a motive
for the Rwandans and the Ugandans to not be in a hurry. The Americans are happy to get the
stuff. Nobody wants out of the war. Everyone is getting his piece of cake. 
        “Walikali is on the edge of the park, but there is mining in the park itself. Coltan is found
associated with tin, which also known as caciterite. There is also plenty of wolfram around here.
It is part of the impurities of coltan. But the market for wolfram is not good [during the second
world war, wolfram was in hot demand for bombs, and secret agents of  the Allies and the Axis
competed for Congo wolfram in Lisbon.]

      I returned to Guy’s villa, which GTZ rents from Kotecha, and there was a letter from
Kasereka.  He had managed to flee the attackers and walked barefoot  for six hours through the
forest,  skirting villages lest he be taken for a thief or discovered to be the conservateur en chef of
the park, which would have been just as dangerous for him. At last he reached the RCD
guardpost at Mulumemunene. 
    A Monsieur Shoumatoff, en mission … Bukavu
    Monsieur :
    Bonjour and welcome to Bukavu.
    As you have heard, our mission of materilization of the limits of the park which had already
worked 13 days was attacked on its last day, 05/09/2000.
     I returned to Bukavu last night. Although I am still suffering, on Friday,  8 September 2000,
[tomorrow] I am making myself available for you. The rest of the program, we can determine
together.
     Meanwhile, I am chez moi at home. My driver who is bringing you this letter is instructed to
bring you here in case you are able to come. It is an ambience of friends who have come to follow
the unfolding of these macabres events which we have lived through.
 
       The consensus of all of Kasereka’s colleagues is that he is un homme intŠgre, a straight-up
guy. I found him to be a remarkable person, a genuinely valorous individual. Shortly after I
arrived we were joined by the son of the mwami of Nindja, the local Shi chef coutoumier, whose
father had accompanied the mapping commission and was still missing. (He was dead.) Kasereka
and  the mwami’s son touched foreheads three times, in the traditional greeting. Two important
chefs coutoumiers were killed in the attack, which goes against the theory that they put the
Interahamwe up to it. But Kasareka’s told me later that “the chefs were members of the
commission but were not really helping us. Each was arguing for his own interest and was looking
for a way to grignoter, to bend the law,  and we were trying to respect it.” Now he told the two
of us what happened : 
      “We had mapped 14.5 km from Kasirusiru [in the corridor] to Lushanga [on its southern
border]. Then we traveled to Fendula with the intention of advancing the limite another 7.8 km. 
We camped at Jhembe, just outside the park. It was the last day of the mission, and we had been
out for thirteen days and everything had gone well. We were in a celebratory mood and maybe a
little off guard.”
       At 5:30 in the morning the attack began. 5 were shot dead right in their tent, including the
surveyor and the freelance video filmmaker who had been hired by the provincial government to
document the mission. The 32 RCD soldiers who were supposed to be protecting the mission fled
into the forest. Their commandant had been thrown into the brig because he could not control his
men. The shots were accompanied by women and children chanting in Rwandese and ululating
and rattling calabashes and dancing the same sort of dance, known as mujegereze, that I would
see  a procession of hefty Congolais women doing, boogeying and clapping their hands as they
came up the road from a church, where one of their neighbors had gotten married.  Whenever a
shot was fired the women and children would shout in a collective cri de joie. Kasereke said the
mapping commission was assaulted by four types of warfare at once 1) guns 2) psychological, the
women and children chanting and shouting 3) intifada  some of the attackers threw stones 4) 
classic, with massues or clubs. One of the victims had his genitals cut off, which Rwandans are
into as are Somalis and Ethiopians.
      Bakongo and Aime and the governor’s political counselor were taken hostages. They were
forced to roll up their mattresses and carry them on their heads with the other loot, blindfolded,
and led off into the forest. The loot included almost all the park’s bush equipment, $2180 in cash,
1 Kalashnikov, I Mauser 50 cal., 295 shells, I gsm locator, 6 radio phones (known as motorolas),
16 tents, 3 mattresses.  The attackers told the hostages they belonged to the Army for the
Liberation of Rwanda.  Their commander was a well-spoken and obviously educated ex-FAR
officer who had been inform‚ dans les belles ‚coles d’Europe.  There was a big debate between
him and his associates whether to kill the hostages. After being led in circles for several hours,
their blindfolds were removed and the hostage were released. The commander told them they
were the ones who killed the tourists in Rwindi, Uganda (which Carlos and Christine thought was
“90 % bluff.”). He showed them how much better armed they were than the park guards. He had
the same demands as the Interhamwe who killed abducted the 6 tourists in PNV did   blanket
amnesty, peace in Congo and Rwanda, and a country. On top of everything, the attackers were
Born Again. They called themselves Ngabo za Yezu, People of Jesus and gave each of their
hostages a bible. 
       But the plot thickens. The attack took place in the same vicinity where an earlier
governmental commission in l995 came to map the park’s boundaries and was stopped by armed
militia of the farmers. There are two or three families who have illegal farms in the park. Their
leader in Muhimwusi Ernest, a powerful civil magistrate in Bukavu who is also the main military
judge of the RCD. They were provided concessions in the park by the corrupt Conservateur des
Titres FonciŠres for South Kivu,  Katoto, who also deeded land in the park to his own son-in-law
and was removed  for unrelated d‚gats, but for some reasons is back in office. In the weeks
before the mapping commission set out, Muhimwisi had threatened  conservateurs of the park
with death if they tried to take his farm from him. So it is very possible that the attackers were put
up to it by Muhumwusi. Interhamwe are known to be living in huts on the back forty of  his farm.
The governor of the province, Norbert Basengezi Kantintima,  issued an eviction notice in
August, but several departments of the South Kivu justice system, in which the magistrat
obviously has some influence, needs to take action and to generate and exchange certain
documents,  and this isn’t happening. Everybody is dragging his feet. Muhuwusi is a big man in
Bukavu. One wonders who is protecting him. 
     Omari Ilangu showed a slide of Muhimwusi’s farm in his talk at NYZS in the Bronx in
October about his gorilla survey this summer. It is a forlorn clearcut landscape, with hardly a stick
of wood standing. The farm has completely eaten through a 500-hectare section of the corridor
and cut the park in two, making gene flow and transhumance migration between the 1800-3308-
meter montane forest of the highland part to the 600-1200-meter lowland part impossible.
       There was also, according to Guy Cirhuza of ORCHA in Bukavu, another attack by
presumed Interahamwe in the same localit‚ of Kalonge, which was followed by an oppression by
the RCD/RPA as a result of which    42,000 i.d.p.’s fled from the villages northwest of  the
corridor through the park by the road via Kasirusiru (where Muhimwisi’s farm is, and where
Interahamwe and Mayi Mayi frequently prey on travelers), to the already densely populated
southeastern, Bukavu/Lake Kivu side of the park.

      Simon Kangeta, adjunct provincial director in charge of security for the RCD, told me that the
attackers were 150 Interahamwe who fled east to Isangi after an RCD/RPA oppression at
Shabunda the month before. Kasereka was dubious : “Isangi is on the northern edge of the park,
very far from where we attacked. If these were the people who attacked us, someone must have
fetched them.”
     The governor, who Christine said is “the best governor we’ve ever worked with, he has given
us everything we asked for,” has ordered a full investigation of the attack. It will be interesting to
see if Muhimwisi is implicated. A massive military operation had been seen to recover the bodies.
“Now there will be a big cleanup operation that will also wipe out innocent locals and all the
social initiatives of GTZ,” Carlos feared. 
         The next afternoon Carlos took me and the German film crew up to the park headquarters
at Tshivanga, which is only half an hour drive above the city. Norbert has repaved the road to the
station which winds up into the volcanic highlands. The road, unrepaired and full of holes,
continues another ca.130km.  to Walikale and from there to Kisangani.  A macabre and
heartbreaking scene greeted us : the guards had laid out on the lawn all the skulls of poached
elephants and gorillas they had recovered while on patrol. According to the June, 2000 Gorilla
Journal,  the slaughter of large mammals in the controlled highland part  PNKB was down from
l999, when 13 of the 19-member family of Mugoli were killed. Signs had been found only 70 of
the 258 gorillas surveyed in l996 (which Omari’s survey has upped to 130-143).. In January 2000
3 gorillas were killed and their heads or hands were cut off. A new family of 5 was discovered.
One of them, who was named Mugaraka, had lost one hand in a trap and had apparently treated
himself by eating medicinal plants, which chimpanzees are also known to do. Several babies were
reported in Bukavu. No one knew who was buying them, but it was certainly not locals. “Who
buys the gorillas, the coltan, the diamonds, the ivory ? Belgium says it will buy no more conflict
diamonds, but how can you know where the stones come from ? And this proliferation of arms ?
Where do you think they come from ? Capitalism means rape for Africans,” Carlos said bitterly.
         Part of the reason for the decline in poaching from the year before is that there were no
more elephants to be poached in the highlands. The last elephant was shot in January. Loxondonta
africana cyclotis was became locally extinct, as it did, I learned a few weeks earlier, across the
lake  in Rwanda’s Nyungwe National Park. Two independent events that were part of the same
tragic trend. The vegetation around the station was thickening noticeably in the elephant’s
absence. 
     The guards now had 100 complete uniforms from UNESCO with the distinctive ICCN logo so
they wouldn’t be confused with fighters. 64 of them and 5 leading staff had been trained in
paramilitary techniques, and they were participating in Frazer Smith’s AFLS program this fall. On
May 19,  the RCD authorites gave 19 functional arms to the guards,  promised that all arms
confiscated from poachers in the future would be given to them, and authorized a barrier on the
road at Tshivanga. This makes it more difficult to run arms and loot and contraband back and
forth from Kisangani to Bukavu. . The guards were carrying on heroically. Kasereka made a point
of telling me (twice) that his magasinier, who was in charge of the arms, was a Tutsi.  “We are all
one family of conservationists,” as Carlos put it. 
          Vested interests make it difficult to demilitarize the park and close airstrips, Gorilla Journal
continues. The ready availability of automatic weapons is causing widespread human destruction
and dramatically changing the course and magnitude of wildlife extermination. Disintegration of
these national parks and the loss of the magnificent wildlife and plants harbored within will be an
irreparable loss for the world as a whole.
         Everything had been going so well before this d‚bacle. A international coalition of
conservations calling itself the DRC Parks Relief Mission consisting of Michael Hasson’s 
Nouvelles Approaches Belgium, Ian Redmond’s Ape Aliances UK, and Joe Thompson’s Lukinu
Wildlife Research Protection USA, had provided everything from rubber boots to 100 backpacks
to a computer scanner and 5 new gps’s. 42 poachers had been caught and were being integrated
into the park staff. 26 of them were pygmies, and of the pisteurs, the park’s l8 trackers, 14 were
pygmies, and another 30 kept up the trails. “If you want a baby gorilla or another animal,”
Kasereka told me, “you go through the pygmies.” 
        Carlos is not a sophisticated scientific mind like Terese or Kes or Guy and he has a very
different style, which works.. He was a ski and windsurf instructor who came to Bukavu to study
French and met the gorgeous Christine. He’s a  handsome, emotional emotive impulsive guy with
a certain animal magnetism  not your typical Swiss.  His body language communicates his
sincerity and that wins over the Africans. He is also fearless. “People say it is he who has my
father’s blood,” Christine said. He checks up on the gorillas several times a week and never takes
an armed guard, only a pygmy pisteur.

         We drove up to a small peak above the station where the radio tower, stripped of its wire
and transmitter, stood. The 5 km power line to the station had also been stripped and would cost
$50,000 to replace, which Carlos said is an urgent priority. From the radio tower we could see
Kahuzi and Biega, the two volcanos for which the park is named, rising out of frothing montane
forest. The attack had taken about 15 km. to the south, toward Biega, only three hours walk..
Somewhere below a gunshot rang out, and Carlos hurried us into the car and we drove back to
the  station.
       That night we met at the Hotel des Orchides, a lovely establishment on the lake. Its owner, a
Belgian named Marc Moreay, had  born in Bukavu and had spent two days in October, l996
negotiating with Mobutu’s soldiers what they could take and what they couldn’t and had thus
saved the place, said if I were you I wouldn’t go to see the gorillas tomorrow, which is what we
were planning to do. The Interhamwe  could have found out that you were coming and be waiting
for you. They have agents in the city who could radio them. They would love to capture some
bazungu [whites] not only for the money but for the attention it would attract.”
     In fact Mushenzi told us the news that we were going to see the gorillas tomorrow had been
on the radio and the t.v. station; Carlos had taken the t.v. crew  to see the governor and the
interview had been filmed by the governer’s video man. This came out just as the crew as about to
sign a contract with ICCN saying that had been told of the risks of going into the park and
absolving ICCN of any responsibility or liability for what happened. The producer, a French
woman with two young children, said she wasn’t going. The cameraman, a Kenyan who was used
to combat situations, was up for it. The reporter, a lovely, spiritual man who had been to many of
the same “garden spots,” as they are known in the trade  it was surprising we hadn’t met
sooner  was ambivalent. If they didn’t get the footage, that was $7000 down the tubes, “the first
time that ever happened to me.”  The sound man had gone to bed.  As for me, I had an American
passport which made me particularly desirable. What if I left my passport and said I was Russian
or something ? I asked Carlos. “They will know who you are. They know the nationality of every
muzungu who comes here,” he told me.
       I decided in view of the fact that the Interhamwe had the means, motive, and intelligence to
trek for three hours and ambush us, that it would be foolish for me to go. It wouldn’t have been a
relaxed visit, in any case. And we all agreed : the trip to the gorillas was canceled.

      What can be done about these Interahamwe ? I asked. They’re holding the park hostage and
getting away with murder  of people and animals. Kasereke said that “the technical difficulties of
dislodging them are almost insurmountable. The forest is so dense you would have to have a
soldier every five feet.” There were also political difficulties. GTZ, being an official government
agency, can’t be involved in any military operation, especially with enemies of the state like the
RCD and the RPA, and the park has to be completely neutral. If the Interhamwe realized they
were being chass‚ because of the gorillas, they could kill them in revenge or to remove the
problem. “The thing that has kept the gorillas alive is that they are apolitical,” Carlos argued.
      But early next morning Carlos got up and as he later told me, I said to myself I’m going. I’m
not going to be intimidated. They can kill me if they want, but it won’t do them any good. We will 
resume the program.  So he woke up the  t.v. crew and took them to see the gorillas, except for
the producer, who said to me (I also have three little sons) “We know where our priorities are.”
My feelings weren’t hurt that I had been left behind. It was a crazy thing to do, une b‚tisse, as
Carlos himself admitted.  “Being with the gorillas was so beautiful that I forgot about the danger,”
the reporter told me. 
        Carlos is  “people first, then the animals. I am a natural conservationist, like any Swiss. As I
child I would go up in the mountains and sit still for hours watching the chamois and the
steinbach. If one little animal can be saved that will be useful later on, fine, but the people here
have nothing. They are desperate and are going crazy, and so are we. We need money badly. We
need everything. GTZ has been magnificent. They haven’t cut off their support during all the war,
and they’ve had to scrap and redo budgets that they had worked out down to the last pfenig. But
I’m not going to fall to my knees and thank the UNF for this money. It’s great, but by the time
you distribute it to everybody, it isn’t going to making a different in their daily lives.”
      How do you get rid of the Interhamwe, I asked. “First, you tell the truth about Operation
Turquoise,”  he said. Operation Turquoise was the mission launched by France to create a safe
haven in southwestern Rwanda during the summer of l994, when the genocide was mostly over.
But Tutsi continued to be slaughtered, even in the turquoise zone, and though French troops did
rescue some Tutsi, the real motive of the Elysee was to protect the ousted Habyarimana
governent whose chief ally it had been and to give the FAR time to regroup. It was only a two
month operation, and when hundreds of thousands of  Hutu poured into Zaire that fall, the French
waved through the high FAR command and the management of the genocide who were coming to
Bukavu from the turquoise zone  with trucks full of heavy artillery and all the money they had
cleaned out of the banks in Kigali, Carlos told me. “They only confiscated every tenth
Kalashnikov so it look like they were doing something. The UNHCR fattened these killers for two
years then unleashed them on us. In two generations the Congolais will realize that the U.N. has
been more evil and destructive to their country than King Leopold ever was.” 
      The refugee camps pumped a lot of money into the local economy, and Bukavu started to
look up, and after they were broken up, there was a huge vacuum which was filled by the
Interhamwe and ex-FAR who had fled into the bush and started to do business with the local
commer‡ants, the commandant of the RCD military in Bukavu, who was also named Kasereka,
told me. He said his soldiers were capturing two or three Interhamwe in Bukavu a day. “They
have friends who give them vehicles and buy their goods, including coltan, and continue to assist
and sympathize with them and help them do their stealing.” 
      The Governor, whom I saw the next morning, was no more a fan of the U.N. than Carlos.  He
was meeting with some of the local university professors, and his video man was on hand and our
45 minute interview was aired in toto on t.v. that night (the announcer said I was a representative
of the UN named “Shoumatox.”). Norbert kind of put me on the spot.  Suddenly I had to answer
for all the U.N.’s sins. “Where is this deployment force to make Lusaka work ? It is either
embrace Lusaka or take up arms,” he grandstanded.  “We have lost $16,800,000 in tourism from
the last six years. There is no international rehabilitation and no security except for local efforts to
maintain it and the source of the insecurity is who ?We are beginning to wonder if there is not a
U.N. plot. They sent us the Interahamwe and it is they who must get rid of them.” 
    There were three possibility for the refugees, as the governor  saw it : “1) they can return to
Rwanda voluntarily. Our Bureau of Pacification has already repatriated 7,200 to reinsertion
camps. 2) integration into the Congolese population. But they rape our women, kill our students
and professors [he was playing to his academic audience], so integration and reconciliation are
hypoth‚tiques. We don’t know how to cut throats and the breasts of women. And 3) ‚loignement.
 We are for this. Send them to Angola or Zimbabwe. These are not populated countries. Let them
find out what the Interhamwe are like.”
      At the final meeting with Kasereka, Carlos, and Mushenzi, knowing that I was on the way to
meet with the powers that be  in Goma and Kigali, said they would be grateful for whatever help I
could be in getting some movement in the effort to evict the magistrat from the park. I said I had
hired to asses the conditions, not to advocate, but I would see what I could do  . The three of
them had modified their position since our last conversation and were now okay for an RCD/RPA
sweep of the villages around the park for negative forces, as long as the park had nothing to do
with it and the oppression didn’t enter the park. I flew to Goma with the official report on the
attack for Mburanumwe. Dr. Ernest Ilunga, the president of RCD-Goma, had not returned from
West Africa (he has since resigned with his two vice-presidents, probably at the urging of the
Rwandans), so I continued to Kigali, where I met with Patrique Mazimhaka, Kagame’s point man
for the Great Lakes. I told him there is a corrupt magistrat in Bukavu who is in complicity with
the Interahamwe who has a farm in the park and if you got rid of  him and  got the ones who
attacked the mapping commission, you would be scoring a badly needed public-relations grand-
slam : you would demonstrate that you are actually doing something about the Interahamwe
(which everybody in the Kivus says you are doing nothing about because they provide an excuse
for your continued presence); you would demonstrate that you are doing something to protect the
resources of Congo instead of just ripping them off, and capturing the killers of the tourists in
Uganda would get you major brownie points in the communaut‚ internationale.
       As for locating the 20 bands of Interahamwe in and around the park, I suggested that maybe
he could enlist of the American  high-resolution surveillance station east of Lake Edward, which
had been so useful when the AFDL was on its way to Kinshasa. Mazimhaka was very intrigued
and thought it was all a great idea and said he would talk to Kagame about it. I filled in Guy de
Bonnet on our conversation, but he has not yetfollowed up with Mazimhaka, a new spike of anti-
Rwandan sentiment having broken out in Bukavu with the death in Rome  of the  nationalistic,
anti-Nilotic Monsigneur Christophe Munzihirwa, who had been exiled  by the RCD. I gave a full
report on my trip to Susan Page, the political officer who monitors  Rwanda-controlled eastern
Congo from the American embassy in Kigali but seems to know nothing about it (she had never
heard of the Island of Idgwi or of the UNF project and had no idea even of the location of the
national parks). I described the deplorable situation in PNKB in detail and said how helpful the
surveillance station on Lake Edward could be in dislodging the Interahamwe. Page said
Mazimhaka would have to take it up with Ambassador Staples. The Americans don’t seem
terribly eager to be involved. 
         The latest news from Kasereka is very disappointing. It seems that all the Kivu justice
system is going to do is slap the magistrat’s wrist with a letter of censure. There will be no
attempt to take away his farm. Status quo, in other words. The negatives forces will continue to
kill people and animals with impunity. A lot of parties seems want it that way.   Kabila wants the
Interahamwe there, and is continuing to give them support,  to keep destabilizing the RCD, as are
many prominent citzens of  Bukavu.  The RPF would rather have them in the forests of  Congo,
all things considered, destabilizing the situation there, than  in Rwanda, and their presence gives
them a legitimate national security reason to stay there themselves. “I think we will see further
disintegration of Congo before it comes back together as a state,” T‚ogŠne Rudasingwa,
Kagame’s chief of staff, told me. “Ilunga is weak [and now out], so is Wamba,  Bemba’s appeal is
confined to Equateur. Already there is a local sub-state forming at Goma. We will always have a
vested interest in the Kivus and will not be leaving there any time soon. And if Congo breaks up
into several states that will be fine with us.”  Because if a strong unified Congo united with the
majority Hutus in Rwanda who show no remorse for what they did in l994, it could be all over for
the Tutsi and the RPF.

Epilogue : Where Does All the Coltan Go ?.

         Coltan is being dealt fast and furious in Kigali. The Swiss embassy is rumored to be buying. 
Susan Page said the American embassy had nothing to do with it except to make sure the
American dealers’ papers were in order. The biggest one, she told me, was Cabot High-
Performance Materials, headquartered in Boyertown, PA. Her ears pricked up when I told her
that I had heard that Madame Gulamare, a Pakistani woman who owns the Supermatch cigarette
factory in Bukavu, was buying 5 tons a day. Every two days she sends 15 drums by truck 
to Dar es Salaam. But Page was not forthcoming about the coltan trade and the American
involvement in it. Nor was her colleague, the economic officer, who told me that coltan is a very
sensitive issue and that if I wanted to talk to her, the UN would have to make a formal request to
the State Department. 
        My source on Mme. Gulamare was my driver, Alfred Rwigamba. His roomate was a Kenyan
whom Alfred met a yearo ago at the Hotel Mille Collines in Kigale with a woman from Arkansas
who was letting it be known that she wanted to buy a million dollars’ worth of coltan and had a
$50,000 machine for assaying the ore. The woman rented Alfred’s car for a year and ended up
skipping town without paying him or the Kenyan, but not before she sold her machine to Mme.
Gulamare. “She seemed so trustworthy,” Alfred told me. 
        Jean Karimbizi, partner in a company that buys coltan, told me : “Some comes from
Rwanda, some from Congo. We don’t ask questions. Most of the Congolese coltan comes from
Punia, Shabunda, Masisi, and Walikale. A little from from the island of Idgwi. In Rwanda the
main mines are in Taba, Rutobwe, and Kayenzi.  People  bring to the coltan to us in Kigali and we
buy it in Bukavu and Goma. The best quality, 40% pure, 35%-plus, comes from the  region
controlled by the Ugandans. We don’t get to see it. It comes Mangirajipe  (which is where ?) and
Bafwasende and all the way to Kisangani and it goes to Kampala. We get between 15 and 30%
pure. We have an xray spectrometer which we back up with chemical analysis so there are no
unpleasant surprises. The going price in Kigali is $10-12 a kilo for 15%, $22 k for 30%, 27% for.
40%.  We move between 2.5 and 5 tons a month. Mme. Gulamare couldn’t be buying 5 tons a
day. That would  means she had practically cornered the world market. The entire production
from Congo is maybe 60 tons a month. The RPA officers are  not doing 100 tons a month. They
are  collection of free wheeling and dealing officers. They use the profits to finance not the war
but posh cars and mansions in Kigali and property outside, in South Africa and Uganda. . We sell
$30-70,000 a month of the mineral, depending on the quality and have a profit margin of 8-15%.
Sometimes we take a loss. We sell to partners in South Africa. The European dealers want to pay
with letters of credit,  which doesn’t work well  in Rwanda because you have to get money out of
the bank and so many documents are required by the time you see your money it takes a month
and you haven’t covered your fixed expenses. . Belgians, Germans, Russians, Americans, and
Chinese agents are all here buying. I just heard there are some interested parties in Hong Kong.
All these are middlemen. Much of the stuff that goes to Germany and China is only refined there
and ends up in the U.S.. The U.S. is the main consumer of coltan in the world, and Cabot is the
main company in the U.S.. It’s a very strategic mineral. It goes into 
 capacitors for cellphones and  alloys for aircraft, satellites, missiles,  medical instruments,
prosthetics, hip joints, etc.,  the metal being very stable and inert.  The companies here that deal
directly with Cabot and don’t go through a middleman reap the highest profit. The U.S. has
strategic reserves that it sometimes dumps on the market and the price  goes through the floor.
Last year the U.S. agency for strategic reserves sold 80,000 lb of pure coltan and the price was
down for 6 months. A month ago it started buying again. We don’t discriminate who we buy
from. We had a private contract with the military but after two or three sales they found a better
payer, then they set up a bidding system. They got smart and started to go through higher-up
middlemen. These are just officer pooling, they have nothing to do with the Rwandese
government. [It seemed Karimbizi, whom I was put on to by Mazimhaka, doth protest too much].
But it’s ironical that the U.S., which is supporting these parks, are also the ones who are
destroying them.” 
       Back in the USA I called  Paul Rutter, who does a lot of the buying for Cabot High
Performance Materials,  which is a small subsidiary of Cabot Corporation in Boston. It was
founded by brahman scion Geoffrey Cabot, who had oil wells in Western Pennsylvania. An
ancient Cabot is still on the board. Rutter explained that “coltan is a combination of columbite and
tantalite. Columbite is same as niobium. Almost anywhere you find tantalum oxide you find at
least some niobium.  The coltan from Bukavu is 30% tantalite, 30% niobium, and the rest is
impurities like iron, titanium, and silicon. It sells in Kigali for $25 a kilo. It is often associated in
that part of the world with caciterite, from which it can be separated.  Niobium is  useful for high-
temperature alloys. 50% of the worldwide use for high purity tantalum powder is for capacitors
for cellphones, computer control systems in cars, etc.
        “We are not the biggest buyer in Kigali. We buy some from traders there but our major
source is European traders who sell to anybody who comes up with the price they are asking.
They  get it from Kigali, Bukavu, or Goma and have their samples weighed and assayed by a third
party. If it is going to be separated that is usually already done in Africa. There are small
processing plants in Congo and Rwanda, but most of the coltan goes not significantly processed
to Europe. The price in Rotterdam or Antwerp for 30% pure varies from $80 to $90 a kilo. We
get most of our coltan from there, only a small percent directly in Kigali. Most of our stuff
actually comes from Australia, where we have long- term contacts with big miners. Nobody
knows what % of the coltan in Europe is from Congo. There are no clearly defined channels. The
material could be double and triple counted as it changes hands. We process the coltan ourselves
into high purity tantalum powder and niobium for a variety of products, the largest  of which is
the capacitor. How much of our coltan is from Congo ? I’d guess 10%.  Any figure for the entire
production from Congo would have to have a huge error bar, but I wouldn’t faint if I had to
throw a dart at   $25 million a year.  We buy it unprocessed. Cabot is known as a refiner. A kilo
of high purity tantalum powder is worth several hundred dollars. There are three manufacturers of
tantalite powders for the world solid-state electronics industry : us, the Germany company H.C.
Stark, and the Red Chinese company Ningxia. How much we produce is proprietary, but I would
guess Cabot is a $100  million dollar business. 
       “Automobile control systems  ignitions, air bags  are big business. A small portion is for
ballistic applications. I don’t know if we are involved. I just buy the raw material.  We also
process the niobium- into what, to be perfectly honest, I don’t know. Niobium 1% zirconium
alloy and niobium titanium is used in superconductors and medical instruments. A kilo of high
purity niobium power is worth less than tantalite powder. 
      “In Kigali a number of dealers are running around and selling to big buyers and number of
small ones. It is very competitve in Kigali because the demand is very high at moment. We
process it as fast as we can get it. We buy from a local who has his own mining operation in
Rwanda. I didn’t say we don’t get any from Congo. A lot of the material in Kigali is from Goma
and Bukavu. I don’t know how much goes to Kampala. I think there is the potential for some
serious business in Congo. So far it is just artesanal mines scratching the surface. Of the $25
million or so coming out of Congo we do a very small amount. People there demand cash and we
can’t evaluate the ore. Portable x-ray analysis can lead you down the primrose path. Most of it is
going directly or indirectly  to  Stark and Ningxia.”
     Jim Giershek told me that he the high-purity tantalum powder that Cabot makes “to capacitor
manufacturers all over the world.  Virtually every electronic device you can think of from
cellphones to digital cameras has a capacitor. Cellphones are a big driver of the market right now.
We produce about half a million pounds, $100 million worth, of the powder a year. 95% goes to
the capacitor industry. 50% of the coltan industry worldwide goes for tantilite wire, rods, sheets,
foil, and alloys. Less than 2% of our powder is used for ballistic applications, mainly for the actual
warhead part of shoulder-fired anti-tank weapons. The metal has exceptional penetrance.” 
 
People contacted : 

Nairobi : the Honorable John Carson, American Ambassador to Kenya 
Eugene Rutagarama, Program Officer, IGCP 
Annette Lanjouw, Director, IGCP
Mbayma’s co conservateur Mafuko, Congolese coordinator, Kes’s counterpart.
Kigali :
 Patrick Mazimhaka, Councilor to the President on the Great Lakes
 Charles Murigande, Councilor to the President
T‚ogŠne Rudasingwa, Directeur du Cabinet (President’s chief of staff
Liz Williamson, Karisoke Director, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund
Ian Muranura, Director, Project Conservation de la Forest de Nyungwe
 Vince Smith, Programme Manager, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund Europe
Jean Bizimana, Chef de Service Parcs Nationaux et Tourisme, ORTPN
the Honorable George M. Staples, American Ambassador to Rwanda
 Susan Page, US political officer who monitors eastern DRC
 
Goma :
Honorable Dr. Vizima Karaha, Chief of Territorial Security and Intelligence for RCD-Goma
Anicet Mburanumwe Chiri, Coordonateur ICCN/RCD
Stanislas Bakinahe, Directeur Provincial Nord Kivu, ICCN
Yowa Winder, OCHA
Kate Farnsworth, US Aid Disaster Relief
Wathuaut Wabubundja Miy, Alexandre, conservateur en chef station Rwindi. 
Maitre Joseph Mudumbi Mulunda, RCD Chef de Departent de l’Interieur

Rumangabo : 
Laurent Muhindo, conservateur principal, Parc Nacional des Virunga

Beni :
Benoit Kambale Kisuki Mathe, Commisaire Adjoint des Infrastructures, RCD-ML 

Epulu :
Karl Ruf, Field Director for GIC at RFO
Robert Mwinyihali, Administrator Research and Training Center (CEFRECOF), WCS
Jean-Joseph Mapilanga
Mayimingi, Kenge
Terese and John Hart (in states before and after trip).
Bunia :
Professor Ernest Wamba dia Wamba, President RCD-Kisangani
Ernest Uringi-pa-Dolo, Governor of Ituri Province
Thomas K. Luhaka, Vice-Commisar of Defense, RCD-Kisangani
Faustin Lola Lapi,  commisaire d’agriculture, development rural, peches, et forets. 
President de la societe civile de l”ituri, Bha-Avira Mbiya Michel-Casimir. 
Alex Bonte, FAO

Garamba:
Dr. A.K. Kes Hillman Smith, Monitoring and Research Coordinator
Fraser Smith, Field Director of IRF for Garamba
Sangbalenze Ungua Moke, Commisaire de zone be Dungu
Jules Abiadra, Administrator of Territory of Faradje
Hassan, SPLA political counselor 
Mbayma Atalia, chef conservateur
Claude last name tk UNHCR

Bukavu : 
Carlos Schuler, Administrative and Financial Officer, GTZ
Christine Schuler, chef de bureau, GTZ.
Guy Debonnet, Chef de Mission, GTZ (by telephone from Montreal to Butare)
Mushenzi Lusenge, Directeur Provincial Sud-Kivu, ICCN
Norbert Basengezi Katintima, Governor of South Kivu Province
Commandant Kasereka, Military Commandant of Bukavu Region
Kasereka the conservateur principal
the Mwami of Idgwi, Ntambuka.
GLOSSARY OF ACRONYMS

ADF Allied Democratic Forces, a Ugandan rebel group dedicated to overthrow of Museveni

AFDL Alliance des Forces pour la Lib‚ration du Congo

ADP Alliance D‚mocratique du Peuple, same as RCD
CAR Central African Republic

GIC Gilman  International Conservation

CEPRECOF Centre de Recherche et Conservation ForestiŠre

DFGF Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund

DRC Democratic Republic of Congo, capital Kinshasa. Not to be confused with ROC

FAC Forces Armees Congolaises. Kabila’s army.

FAR Habyarimana’s defeated Forces Arm‚es Rwandaises

FAZ  Mobutu’s defeated Forces Arm‚es Zairoises

GTZ Deutsche Gesselschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit/ German Technical Cooperation

ICCN Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature

IGCP International Gorilla Conservation Programme

IRF International Rhino Fund

MLC Mouvement de la Lib‚ration du Congo, led by Jean Pierre Bemba, based in Gbadolite

NALU The Ugandan rebel group that has been holed up in the Ruwenzori Mountains since
independence

ORCHA the United Nations’ Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
PNG Garamba National Park
PNKB Kahuzi Biega National Park
PNS Salonga National Park
PNV Virunga National Park

RCD-Goma, Rassemblement Congolais pour la D‚mocratie, led by Dr. ?mile Ilunga, based in
Goma 

RCD-Kisangani, aka RCD-ML (Mouvement de la Lib‚ration), led by Professor Wamba dia
Wamba, based in Bunia

RFO Okapi Faunal Reserve
ROC Republic of Congo, capital Brazzaville
RPA Rwandan Patriotic Army
RPF Rwandan Patriotic Front, president Paul Kagame

SPLA, Sudan People’s Liberation Army

UNHCR United Nations High Council for Refugees

WCS Wildlife Conservation Society

WWF World Wildlife Fund