International Press Scratches the Surface on "Inside Job" Behind Gorilla Slaughter While Big Stories of Depopulation, Corporate Plunder and War Remain Hidden in the Mists of Propaganda
By Georgianne Nienaber and keith harmon snow
On March 19, 2008, South Africa's Mail & Guardian reported that "A senior manager at a world heritage African wildlife park was arrested on Tuesday as an investigation into the killing of 10 rare mountain gorillas gathered pace, a government minister said."
The public relations spins are applied to stories about wildlife conservation in the Democratic republic of Congo (DRC) that make their way through the mainstream press and filter into so-called "alternative" press reports that do not critically examine the sources or veracity of "news" reportage out of Africa.
A wave of gorilla killings in the spring and summer of 2007 was universally blamed on either "rebel militias" or "charcoal gatherers" operating in the World Heritage Virungas region of Central Africa. Stories appeared in venues like Newsweek and the Washington Post, but quickly appeared republished verbatim in on-line venues like TRUTHOUT.org. They were wrong.
Meanwhile, field investigations conducted in Eastern Congo by Independent Journalists, additionally supported by Congolese organizations, uncovered criminal operations involving big Western Conservation organizations. Years of research and investigations revealed that big so-called "non-government organizations"--known as BINGOs for BIG NGOs that are deep in the money pot-- are involved in clandestine activities, corrupt practices and programs that are overtly racist and counterproductive to both the spirit and purpose of true conservation and development.
Exactly one year ago, Congolese authorities detained an independent journalist because conservation interests in the Democratic Republic of Congo accused the journalist of being a spy. The real reason— an hour and a half of video footage in which Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature (I.C.C.N.) official Vital Katembo condemned the institution and suggested it was behind a recent killing of three gorillas.
“If this footage is released, it will destroy conservation in the Virungas,” the journalist was told by a conservationist connected to big NGO’s in the region.
Conservation interests subsequently stole the footage of the interview with Vital Katembo, but another independent journalist secretly visited with Katembo and recreated the stolen interview, in which Katembo claimed that the three gorilla killings were an inside job. By July of 2007, seven more gorillas were killed and Katembo provided more information that clearly implicated I.C.C.N.
Katembo was then targeted by the I.C.C.N. bosses and by the big conservation NGOs working in Africa.
Mainstream media blamed the gorilla killings on “rebel forces,” under the control of Laurent Nkunda and other militia groups. Nkunda denied any involvement in the killings in a communiqué that was also squashed by conservation interests. OEN and COA news published Nkunda’s denial.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post, Newsweek, CBS News and most of the mainstream media in the United states climbed aboard the conservationists’ bandwagon and continued to blame “rebel forces” for the gorilla slaughter, despite independent journalists offering all of their notes and photos to the Washington Post’s Africa desk in hopes that the true story would be written—saving gorillas and Congolese inhabitants of Virunga in the bargain. It was not to be.
An August 16 communication by Katembo that challenged the activities and agenda of Richard Leakey's newly formed Wildlife Direct and other NGOs in Central Africa prompted direct retaliation.