Riding a motorbike through the savannah
By Trip Jennings and Kyle Dickman; Photographs by Terese Hart and the Bonobo in Congo Project
There was a shootout. Andy and I weren’t there, but we learned through satellite text messages that Colonel Gui and his soldiers from the Congolese army ran into the bandits somewhere between Kisangani and Obenge—likely the brothers of Colonel Toms, a convicted war criminal and poacher. A gunfight ensued. One poacher was injured and two others were apprehended. Colonel Gui, with his prisoners in tow, is still coming to Obenge to root out poachers in the region. We should see them tomorrow. I got the news during a four-day sampling hike through TL2 with Andy and the scientist John Hart.
But let me back up. After Kisangani, which is from where I last blogged, we flew to Kindu, a town on the border of the 25,000 square mile jungle known as TL2. It's the region Elephant Ivory Project leader Samuel Wasser wants elephant dung samples from most (read the previous posts to understand why). From Kindu, the three of us spent two days on the back of motorbikes, riding dirt paths notched into the jungle and savannah. These paths are arteries out of the bush. We saw locals pushing bicycles loaded with everything from pineapples to bush meat in the form of monkeys and okapi, a striped cousin of the giraffe. At the Lomami River, we loaded into motorized pirogues for a supposed two-day trip north to Obenge, the Hart’s research camp in the northern part of the proposed Lomami National Park. John stopped at every riverside village—about a dozen—to explain what the national park meant for the locals.