Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share on PInterest Share on Fark! Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon Tell A Friend 1 (1 Shares)  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites (# of views)   2 comments

General News

S.O.S in Eastern Congo:Magic Sticks, Corruption and Gorilla Warfare

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Georgianne Nienaber     Permalink
      (Page 1 of 7 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

View Ratings | Rate It

Author 3681
Become a Fan
  (44 fans)
- Advertisement -

Article co-authored with keith harmon

Two urgent messages arrived from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in late August 2007—each labeled S.O.S. It is ironic that land-locked Congolese would use the international maritime distress signal S.O.S. to plea for help. As independent journalists, we feel a bit like the captains of the Carpathian in their futile attempt to rescue the passengers of the sinking Titanic. The irony of the Titanic disaster was that the ship California was floating ten miles away and capable of rescuing all onboard—but not responding to the visual S.O.S. The California analogy fits the mainstream media today, as honest men and women fire rocket flare after rocket flare from the depths of Congo, hoping and praying that anyone will take heed of the ongoing conservation and humanitarian disasters.

The puzzled crew of the California watched the Titanic’s distress signals until it was too late. Over 1500 people perished in the legendary wreck of the Titanic. By some accounts, 10 million have vanished in Congo, with 1,000 people dying daily in North Kivu Province alone. Untold lowland gorillas have vanished along with the iconic mountain gorilla. Congo’s Virunga Park is as devoid of life as the hulking wreck of the great ocean liner now rusting on the seabed of the icy North Atlantic.

On August 27, 2007 Congolese national Vital Katembo Mushegezi, a state Conservator and Senior Game Warden in the Virungas National Park, sent out an urgent S.O.S. appeal from the DRC. The second S.O.S. came from a Congolese animal rights organization that has been investigating the gorilla trade and corruption in the ranks of conservation NGOs operating within Virunga Park.

In a stunning revelation, investigators from the Innovation for Development and the Protection of the Environment (I.D.P.E.)—affiliated with the World Society for the Protection of Animals and supported by Animal Rights of Hawai’i—describe “a network of people who are in search for sticks that the big apes, such as those the gorillas and the chimpanzees use.”

Thomas Breuer of the Wildlife Conservation Society

The astonishing claim—mysteriously never reported by international primatologists and big conservation NGOs like the Jane Goodall Institute and Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund—is that elderly or handicapped gorillas and chimps use wooden sticks to defend themselves or to support themselves as they walk bipedally. Sorcerers—known as “marabouts”—seek these magic sticks because of the supernatural powers they possess and the sticks fetch a $20,000 price on the international market.


- Advertisement -

Conservator Vital Katembo came under attack from powerful forces seeking to maintain a long-standing silence about corruption, extortion, and criminality involving international non-government organizations (NGOs) working in the conservation, development and humanitarian sector in Central Africa. While previously concerned for his livelihood and security, Katembo was recently barred from his offices at the internationally renowned Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature (ICCN) and remains deeply concerned for his life and his family's security.

The ICCN was established in the 1970’s and it prospered in its early years. A much smaller equivalent of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the ICCN was crippled and incapacitated by decades of graft and corruption institutionalized by international NGOs in the so-called “conservation” and, more lately, “humanitarian” business sectors, as they supported the regime of dictator Joseph Mobutu (DRC/Zaire/DRC) while pursuing their self-perpetuating programs.

“The situation remains terrible and I really fear about myself,” Katembo wrote. “The Administrator Director Techniche (ADT), Benoit Kisuki, who is the second in command in ICCN headquarters in Kinshasa, has sent a verbal instruction to many expatriates and to the Provincial Director here in Goma and it’s difficult for me to know what he told them. Many rangers are supportive of my cause and all want to see an independent evaluation to probe the facts and punish all involved.”

The “cause” Katembo refers to is an expose’ of the graft, money laundering and intimidation that has been business as usual in conservation and humanitarian sectors in Central Africa. In the past year Katembo has been increasingly concerned about “conservation” in Central Africa, and he has shown unflinching courage by publicly challenging organizations and individuals who are profiting from the billion dollar conservation, development and humanitarian sectors at the expense of human suffering and exploitation of the environment. Vital Katembo has been increasingly vocal, notwithstanding the threat and actualization of retaliation over the past several months.

An August 16 communication by Mr. Katembo, challenging the activities and agenda of international NGOs in Central Africa, prompted direct retaliation because of a mis-directed email that mistakenly reached Wildlife Direct.

- Advertisement -

“I have now worked in the Virunga for almost 15 years and my experience of the last 2 years is of deception,” Vital Katembo wrote on August 16, 2007, responding to communication exchanges from Wildlife Direct director Emmanuel De Merode. “Are we saving wildlife or are we trying our best to save so called Wildlife Direct managers and experts? You are not new to learn that good people can do evil and this is so obvious in the conservation arena… Conservation in the Virungas is the last stand of oppression, corruption and colonialism.”

The above statement provoked an attack against Katembo organized by Pasteur Cosma Wilingula, Executive Director of the ICCN in Kinshasa. Katembo’s email was a mild enough comment made off-handedly to Wildlife Direct director Emmanuel De Merode, and to these authors.

Emmanuel De Merode is a Belgian born primatologist married to Louise Leakey, Richard Leakey’s daughter, who has years of association with Congo/Zaire. Richard Leakey is the founder of Wildlife Direct, a non-profit organization registered in Washington DC that operates under the mantle of the Africa Conservation Fund: ACF is affiliated with former U.S. State Department and National Security Agency officials. Wildlife Direct has been at the epicenter of the controversial gorilla killings in Virunga Park, Democratic Republic of Congo.

Next Page  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6  |  7


- Advertisement -

View Ratings | Rate It

Georgianne Nienaber is an investigative environmental and political writer. She lives in rural northern Minnesota, New Orleans and South Florida. Her articles have appeared in The Society of Professional Journalists' Online Quill (more...)

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon

Go To Commenting

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
- Advertisement -

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Dian Fossey and the Gorilla Killings

Should the World Boycott the Beijing Olympics? The Horrific Story of the Falun Gong

Recently Leaked Documents Confirm Clinton Haitian Gold Scheme

Haiti Watch: Disease Threatens Infants and No Plans to Stop It

Bakken Oil: Fighting for Control of Fort Berthold and the Three Affiliated Tribes

"Sticks in Vaginas:" This Is What a Massacre Looks Like