The endless expanse of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s rain forests can only be fully appreciated from the air, but the complexity of its life and the timelessness of its beauty are best grasped from the forest floor. Attempts to describe it with words alone are futile and inadequate.
It goes without saying that emphasizing the link between education and conservation is not a fruitless endeavor. The desired outcome is a community which consciously chooses to look after its forest as a heritage for its children, its children’s children, and its children’s children’s children, who will all benefit from these efforts in turn.
Iyondji Community Bonobo Reserve (ICBR) was established at the request of the Iyondji community, who saw the benefits their neighbors were enjoying as the result of living alongside the Lomako Reserve—specifically job creation and income from tourism. Since then, ICBR has been managed by DRC’s wildlife authority, l’Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN), a valuable AWF partner.
You don’t know the meaning of the word excitement unless you’ve ridden on the back of a dirt bike for six hours through a rough forest path in a remote area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo—and you can’t know terror until you’ve done the last hour and a half in the dark. But the reward for this sliding, bouncing, spine-crushing experience was the opportunity to witness a community-wide outburst of pure joy. In this case, the reason for the exultation was the grand opening of the AWF sponsored school in the isolated village of Ilima.
It’s hard to overstate the ecological value of the Congo Basin. The second-largest tropical rainforest in the world after the Amazon, the Basin is sometimes referred to as the world’s second lung for its ability to absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. It’s also a treasure trove of endemic species.