Global Friends Club: Conservation Education and Activity for the Next Generation

[Original text in French and English translation]


S’il y’a l’interdépendance entre la faune et la flore, quel avenir ont les aires protégées de la RDC? La chasse est souvent considérée comme une activité illicite dans certains villages riveraines des zones des conservations. Dans la basse altitude du Parc national de Kahuzi-Biéga, précisément à Kalonge, la viande de brousse est la seule à fournir cette population la protéine animale et elle constitue aussi une activité lucrative. La pratique de la conservation participative est envisageable mais loin d’être réalisé.

If there is interdependence between fauna and flora, what future do the DRC’s protected areas have? Hunting is often considered illegal activity in some villages bordering the conservation areas. In the low altitude area of the Kahuzi-Biega National Park, precisely in Kalonge, bushmeat is the only one to provide this population animal protein and it is also a lucrative activity. The practice of participatory conservation is conceivable but far from being achieved.

Burned forest

Quelle méchanceté à l’égard de la nature, sachant que l’homme fait partie de cette même nature, comment il peut commencer à coupé sont propre branche qui le soutien. Malgré les menaces du changement climatique, l’agriculture et la coupe du bois persistent toujours dans les zones de conservations de la RDC. Pensons nous que ceux qui brûlent ainsi la forêt ou qui coupent les arbres font leur restauration après? Nous qui avons encore cette conscience, comment devons-nous nous tenir face à ces genres des situations?

What wickedness with respect to nature, knowing that man is part of this same nature, how they can begin to cut off their own branch that supports them. Despite the threats of climate change, agriculture and logging persist in the DRC’s conservation areas. Do we think that those who burn the forest or cut the trees do their restoration afterwards? We who still have this consciousness, how do we face these kinds of situations?

Danny speaking to children.

Suite a l’explication et information de Pole Pole Fondation, la nouvelle génération des communautés riveraines du PNKB, s’intéresse à la conservation de la nature et refuse d’emboîter les pas de leurs prédécesseurs qui étaient dès lors prêtés à la destruction de la faune et la flore de cette aire protégée.

Following the explanation and information of the Pole Pole Foundation, the new generation of communities bordering the KBNP, is interested in nature conservation and refuses to follow the footsteps of their predecessors who were therefore blamed for the destruction of fauna and flora of this protected area.

Global Friends Club at Miti village

Le Global Friends Club à une visite guidée dans le village de Miti à environ 7 kilomètre du PNKB. Grâce à cette visité le Club a compris le méfait de la chasse et la consommation de la viande brousse ainsi que l’importance de l’élevage domestique. A la fin de la visite, chaque enfant et membre du Club était convaincu de la nécessité d’élever leur propre bétail domestique, bannir la destruction du PNKB à travers la chasse.

The Global Friends Club at a guided tour in the village of Miti about 7 km from the KBNP. Through this visit the Club understood the mischief of hunting and consumption of bushmeat as well as the importance of domestic breeding. At the end of the visit, each child and member of the Club was convinced of the need to raise their own domestic cattle, banishing the destruction of the KBNP through hunting.

Global Friends Club with a banner.

Nous avons raison de le faire. Jeunes filles et garçons tous derrière la conservation de la nature. Notre objectif est d’éradiquer toutes les activités illicites que la génération précédente a fait dans le Parc national de Kahuzi-Biega et instaurait intégralement la conservation participative. Nous savons tous que c’est ne pas une tache facile mais ensemble nous pouvons. Yes, we can.

We are right to do that. Young girls and boys all behind the conservation of nature. Our goal is to eradicate all illegal activities that the previous generation did in the Kahuzi-Biega National Park and fully introduce participatory conservation. We all know it’s not an easy task but together we can. Yes, we can.

Friends reunited

In the 1980’s, I worked as an expedition cook for a UK company called ‘Guerba Expeditions’.

JB Jones, Nikki Jones and Nick Cooper with their expedition truck near Miti, 1987

My husband, JB, and I used to run long-haul overland trips for Guerba.
Depending on our route, these trips were four of five months long, taking in Africa from top to bottom.
Whenever we were in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (which was known as Zaire at the time), we used to go and spend some time with John Kahekwa and the Eastern Lowland Grauer’s gorillas.
Visiting the gorillas in the Kahuzi-Biega National Park was a real highlight for us, and something which we will never forget.

John Kahekwa and Nikki Jones with Pygmy trackers, 1987

The big silverback which we used to visit was called ‘Maheshe’.
He was a magnificent animal. And he was quite famous. He even appeared on the bank notes of the time.

The beautiful Maheshe, 1987

I lost touch with John, but have often thought of him over the years, and wondered how he and the gorillas were getting on with all the conflict that there has been in the area.

Imagine my delight when I learned that he was coming to London to be presented with the Prince William Award for Conservation 2016!
Finally, an opportunity to meet up and re-connect with an old friend.
It was lovely to see him again, and to share some old memories.
The years just melted away …..

Nikki Jones, John Kahekwa and JB Jones, 2016

It is great to be in touch with John again, and I am really looking forward to being able to help with the work of his Pole Pole Foundation in the future.

Nikki Jones, New Trustee of POPOF UK

Following a meeting on Saturday, 8th April 2017, the Pole Pole Foundation UK is pleased to announce the appointment of a new Trustee; Nikki Jones.

POPOF UK members:
From left, Richard Milburn – Representative member, Julia Milburn – Treasurer,
Nikki Jones – Trustee,Tony Milburn – Chairman.

Nikki used to work as a cook on trans-African overland expeditions in the 1980’s and has very fond memories of time spent in the Democratic Republic of Congo – known at that time as Zaire.

She knows the area and the founder of the Pole Pole Foundation, John Kahekwa, personally, and brings a female perspective to the role.
“I am honoured and delighted to have been given the opportunity to support the work of the Pole Pole Foundation in such a direct way.” said Nikki.
“The Congo is such a beautiful place and the people are so friendly. The Kahuzi-Biega National Park is an ecological gem. The Grauer’s gorillas are awesome in the true sense of the word.
I am very excited to be helping John and his team, and look forward to contributing to the amazing work that they are doing.”

John Kahekwa gives a talk at King’s College, London

During his recent visit to London, John Kahekwa took the time to give a talk about his conservation work at the Department of War Studies, King’s College, London.

The audience was treated to a fascinating explanation of John’s work with his Pole Pole Foundation, and the difficulties he faces because of conflict and illegal mining in his area. Ian Redmond of the Born Free Foundation spoke about his concerns for the future of the Eastern Lowland Grauer’s gorillas, too.

John Kahekwa’s holistic approach to conservation is leading the way in his field. Education is a corner stone of the work that the Pole Pole Foundation does in the D R Congo.
It was good to hear what John had to say in London.

Jasper Humphreys of King’s College and Ian Redmond of the Born Free Foundation listen to John Kahekwa’s talk, December 2016

John Kahekwa and Nikki Jones at his talk at the Department of War Studies, King’s College, London.