Conservationists have already registered objections to this development project, yet they rubber stamp logging operations that make charcoal gathering in the Virungas look like a box of toothpicks.
Rainforest Floating Down the Congo River Â© keith harmon snow
Goma now has over 700,000 residents crammed into a city where the central feature is a huge, festering garbage dump. There is little available shelter in this city which was buried in lava at the last eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano. The United Nations and humanitarian relief agencies are unable to provide fuel for the internally displaced persons (IDPs) who flood the camps.
National Geographic shrugs it off with a caption that reads, “Some people go hungry in densely populated North Kivu Province.” The phrase “densely populated” is another buzz phrase promoted by conservation NGO’s to advocate population control in Africa. The fact remains that, outside of the camps, Central Africa is less densely populated than the United States. See:
A Fool’s Tale: Signifying Nothing
Then there is killing of the mountain gorillas. Does National Geographic offer a plausible explanation, or has the case been tried in the media for the last year with the FOX News’ version of National Geographic only offering the final verdict?
In the summer of 2007, the Washington Post and its sister publication, Newsweek, offered essentially the same conclusions offered in the July issue of National Geographic, but from a different bully pulpit. The Goma ICCN whistleblower predicted in the autumn of 2007 that ICCN and conservation interests would offer up a low level “fall-guy” to take the rap. This appears to have happened in the case of former chief park warden, Honore Mashagiro, who was arrested in March 2008 and charged with plotting the gorilla murders to silence conservation “hero” Paulin Ngobobo. Ngobobo is a Wildlife Direct Congo ranger, who was in charge of the gorilla sector of the park.
It would take another “trail of the century’ to sort out the competing rivalries, jealousies and competition for conservation dollars that infest the quest for truth in this case.
Consider, though, that the gorilla killings began shortly after Wildlife Direct and the Frankfurt Zoological society made their joint presence known in the park. Ngobobo was ostensibly posting his own blog about the killings, but the man does not speak or write fluent English. His blog was posted and written by a Wildlife Direct. Press officer. Spokeswoman and webmaster, Samantha Newport has not said publicly whether she is the person who wrote the blogs for Ngobobo. However, Newport has attempted to discredit freelance journalists who have been dogging this story and Ngobobo’s role.
National Geographic made its bias clear in a pair of photos that appear on pages 64 and 65. ICCN suspect Honore Mashagiro is pictured in a small, blurry, cropped headshot, poorly lit, which hardly holds up to the standards of National Geographic photojournalists. He looks sullen, surly, and “evil.”
On the facing page, there is a stunning backlit shot of the erstwhile “hero” Ngobobo, shadows and light playing across his impeccably pressed and starched uniform while he cradles the skull of a slain gorilla in his hands. Note the fancy field watch and the prescription glasses.
One half expects the line from Hamlet to accompany the photo: “Alas poor Yorick,” with National Geographic playing the fool to Ngobobo’s Hamlet.
This is the worst kind of pandering, manipulative “photo-journalism.” One does not know whether to hold the photographer or National Geographic’s photo editors responsible for this manipulation.
Finally, whether one believes that Tutsi general Laurent Nkunda is hero to his people or arch-villain, Nkunda is a military force to be reckoned with in the Eastern Congo. For National Geographic to describe him as looking like a “jazz musician” because of his choice of clothing for the photo shoot is unbelievable---but they did so.
In another instance of photo manipulation, Nkunda is photographed from a distorted angle, making him look foolish—and make no mistake about it—Nkunda is nobody’s fool. Friends of Nkunda, and this writer has met with them, describe Nkunda as a scholarly man—well read, devout and a philosopher. Yes, he is a military man and as such he is responsible for great violence in Congo. So is the FDLR (Hutu army) and so also is the regular Congolese army.