Notes From the Field, October - December 2009
November 9, 2009
From Stefanie McLaughlin, assistant conservation coordinator (from the Zoological Society’s office in Milwaukee, Wis.):
Proving again that working in the Democratic Republic of Congo is not an easy feat (nor a dull one), Gay called the U.S. office last Friday to notify us that the Zoological Society's large pirogue – or dugout canoe – (along with three other large pirogues kept at the same port) were lost sometime during the previous night due to the strong winds of a passing storm. Our pilots immediately took out the smaller pirogue on the river to search for it, unfortunately without success.
On a previous trip, Dr. Reinartz and the BCBI team travel to the Salonga in a pirogue. Photo provided by Dr. Reinartz.
Having a large pirogue this trip is absolutely necessary because of the large amounts of fuel and materials we are transporting into the Salonga National Park in support of our anti-poaching and community support programs. Things were looking bleak with the pirogue now gone – finding one to replace it would be difficult, and there aren’t many options for renting because there simply are not many available.
Luckily, the team scoured Mbandaka and was able to locate a pirogue to rent that would be large enough to transport all the goods. So, things got back on track quickly, and the team scrambled over the weekend to sign the rental contract and get the new pirogue packed for the trip. Gay had hoped that the team would still get on the river by late Sunday or early Monday – only a slight deviation from the original plan.
The trip to Etate is three days by river, but we hope to get a quick update via satellite phone from the river, and will send out updates as they become available.