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Worsening situation in DR Congo. Tourists and Gorillas under threat.

Worsening situation in DR Congo. Tourists and Gorillas under threat.

Old May 26th, 2007, 07:19 AM
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Worsening situation in DR Congo. Tourists and Gorillas under threat.

I don't know how many of you keep in touch with Safaritalk but I wanted to provide an update regarding the work of Wildlife Direct staff in the Congo, Virunga National Park. Rebel forces are moving into the area and despite a truce signed earlier in the year they are now going back on this threatening to kill the gorillas:

www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,21773519-663,00.html

Here is the latest information from the Rangers blog at Wildlifedirect.org:

www.wildlifedirect.org/blogAdmin/atamato

Including a photograph of Nicolas Mbusa Viranzire, a WWF official who was shot dead in the attack.

Lastly an email from Samantha Newport comms director for wildlife direct

"Dear Matt,

I will respond in coming days.

Security is deteriorating and we are taking precautionary measures for wildlifedirect staff.

Best

Samantha"


It is such a shame after recent achievements, the birth of some new family members and a donation of almost 20,000 USD by my friend Chris Alar which not only paid for a Land Rover to be purchased but computer equipment and the payment of the ranger's wages.

When some of us talk about conservation these are people really at the sharp end on the ground and making a difference. Spare a thought for them and try to get involved with wildlifedirect.org and Safaritalk.net.

Thanks,

Matt
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Old May 26th, 2007, 11:19 AM
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Thanks for the latest. There was a blurb on this a few days ago in my local paper. Your links provided much more insight and ways to donate.
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Old May 26th, 2007, 01:23 PM
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Thank you for posting Matt. I feel terrible for those poor people who were attacked while they were trying to protect the Gorillas, Hippos and other wildlife. I can't even begin to imagine how bad it was to lose a man and pregnant woman and all for the sake of basic supplies and monitoring equipment. Let's hope enough people see fit to make even small donations to help both the people and Gorillas and other animals in danger.

Imelda
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Old May 26th, 2007, 02:15 PM
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Oh no!!! This is terrible! I feel so awful for the people who were killed while trying to protect the animals...please keep us posted on what happens!

Moira
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Old May 26th, 2007, 02:27 PM
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I'm a lurker on the Africa Board and post on the other boards fairly regularly. I dream of going to Africa so I come here to read the trip reports etc. Andersen Cooper hosted a program on CNN last night about the various hot spots he has visited over the years and was doing some updates on some of these areas, including the Congo.

It seems the situation there has indeed deteriorated. It made me think of a documentary I watched recently about an Etheopian coffee broker trying to get his coffee sold on the world market. He represented a small co-op of farmers. They each had a fairly small number of trees, but money goes far in those regions and what they would make from the harvested coffee would allow them enough to support their families and send their children to school. To make a long story short, this man was shut out. His people had to take out their trees and ended up growing some kind of narcotic to sell in the local market, and then they showed a picture of food distribution to the village. These people could have been self sustaining if they could have sold their product.

I was very disturbed. I know that African history is very long and very complex, but I thought that somewhere along the line the major powers were supposed to help these countries economically? I haven't done a LOT of research, but am intending to do more.

If those, like the coffee broker, are shut out of markets, you have people that had some hope and that hope was dashed, they can't make a living for their families, the kids can't go to school...so what's left for them? It's easy at that point for them to be recruited or forced into the army or a rebel group and the cycle just continues.

My heart breaks for the citizens of the country, the wonderful and devoted aid workers, doctors, nurses, wildlife and land conservationists, who put their lives in danger each and every day to try to make it better for everyone and every living thing. But, my point is, people need jobs, they need education and work and hope and a future, and until the western world wakes up and encourages people like "my" coffee broker to bring a product to the market, thus enabling people to take care of themselves and their families, these horrible occurances will continue to happen.

After seeing that program, my small contribution is to buy Fair Trade coffee whenever it is available. I will keep the people and animals of this area in my prayers and certainly always praying for peace.
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Old May 27th, 2007, 03:55 PM
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Matt, yes I saw this in my local paper and was very discouraged. I do visit Safaritalk fairly regularly and wanted to thank you again for your wonderful work with the website and for spreading the word.
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Old Jun 9th, 2007, 07:44 AM
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This is so horrible on so many levels. Does anyone have any more updates? I have a trip planned in January. Do you think it will be safe to travel and visit the gorillas?
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Old Jun 9th, 2007, 10:50 AM
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Why'd you pick Congo over Rwanda?
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Old Jun 9th, 2007, 10:58 AM
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Hills27,

I believe Dr. Andrea is going to Rwanda. The agents I've talked to (even before this happened) did not recommend Congo.
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Old Jun 9th, 2007, 11:31 AM
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I don't think this incident should cause anyone to reconsider traveling to Rwanda or Uganda to go gorilla trekking. This kind of incident has been happening constantly in the eastern DRC for years without causing any problems in Rwanda or Uganda.

Indeed, while were were there in January 2007, a rebel group in DRC (Gen. Nkunda's group) fled into the Virunga NP in DRC and killed several gorillas, but nothing happened in Rwanda or Uganda and we did not even her about it until we got home.

Security is very good in the gorilla parks in Rwanda and Uganda, so I would not cancel a trip there unless the fighting was actually occuring there. If you are going to be scared off by something happening in the DRC, you'll never go over there.

In case you are actually thinking about going to the DRC, I would definitely not do that.

Chris
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Old Jun 9th, 2007, 03:47 PM
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I am totally confused now. I thought the problems were in Rwanda. Does the park span both the Congo and Rwanda? I am going to Rwanda, so does that mean I am ok?
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Old Jun 9th, 2007, 04:30 PM
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There are three parks that occupy the Uganda-Rwanda-DRC border: Volcanoes NP in Rwanda, Mgahinga Gorilla NP in Uganda and Virunga NP in DRC. However, each government takes responsibility for security in its own park. There have not been any issues with rebel groups from DRC entering Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, and the park is intensively patrolled by the Rwandan military. Since that is where you are going, you are fine and I would not change your plans because of events in the DRC. People have been going to see gorillas in Rwanda for years without incident, including myself less than six months ago. Enjoy it, it is an unforgettable experience and Rwanda is a wonderful country to visit!
Chris
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Old Jun 9th, 2007, 06:56 PM
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Ok..I think I get it now. We are fine in Rwanda. Thanks.
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