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Congo River Days

On Tuesday we boated 40km up the Congo River from the mouth, to several tributaries where I have been on previous trips and interviewed villagers about manatees. Accompanying me was Tim B. (the Angola LNG wildlife specialist), Wilson (a translator since I don’t speak Portuguese, Kisolongo or Lingala), Junior (Angola LNG environmental team assistant) and our two boat drivers who have taken me on almost every trip, Eduardo and Perreira. We stopped at the local Navy base, villages of Kibaka, Nzadi Caca and a new village I had not been to before. At Kibaka and Nzadi Caca they still see manatees everyday, throughout the year. They said there has been no targeted hunting since the hunter died last year, but that occasionally manatees are getting caught in fishing nets, and of course they eat them when they do. I can’t fault people for making use of the meat once the manatee has drowned, this area is very poor. We didn’t see any manatees as we traveled several tributaries, but unfortunately we also didn’t really have time to sit and wait for them anywhere.

Eduardo and Perreira, doing one of their many radio check-ins to base.
Back at Nzadi Caca. The village continues to grow as they add more clam shells and then build their houses on top of them.
We interviewed the guys in Nzadi Caca while they skewered clams to sell

View from the new village we visited

Woman making thatch roof panels at Kibaka We released the baby python while we were upriver On Thursday we went upriver again, and this time Joao accompanied me as translator. We didn’t go as far upriver, but explored some new tributaries I had not been to before. It still amazes me how many hundreds of miles of tributaries there are here, and that there are very few people living along them. We interviewed several fishermen and stopped at a manioc plantation (manioc is a root vegetable, also known as cassava). Although there is plenty of good habitat and favored food plants in the area we went, people there said they don’t see manatees very often. There were no hunters in this area; they only knew of Mr. Domingos, who died last year.

Some of the tributaries here are half a mile wide and 13 meters deep, while others are narrow channels (but usually still 4-5 meters deep). Most of this area is still pristine, with very few villages or other signs of people.

Watching the GPS map as we travel the new rivers.

One of the fishermen we interviewed as we explored several new tributaries. This woman at the manioc plantation proudly showed me her fish. She and her husband said they don’t see manatees frequently there, but occasionally they (and hippos) travel by in the river.
Young guinon that was a pet at the manoic plantation, tied to a tree. Beautiful little monkey, I felt sorry for it.
Nice skink I saw at the manioc plantation. (this one’s for you Tess!)
1 Comment
  • Tess

    November 12, 2009 at 8:57 am Reply

    🙂 Love the skink! Great photos – cool monkey and gorgeous python shot too.

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