This dramatic oil painting was painted by the well-known Congo Painter Sabythi. H.
It is a panoramic viewpoint of the Kahuzi-Biega mountains rising above a local village near Bukavu - Eastern DRCongo.
(Painting is the property of Itombwe Conservation, Inc.)
-The DRC is one of the world's seventeen "megadiverse" countries in the world (These seventeen countries host the majority of the earths plant and animal species).
-The DRC is ranked 10th in the world for the species of birds (1,087 species) -Source: Birdlife International-
-The DRC is loaded with resources that the rest of the world wants, but none of that wealth finds its way down to where it is so desperately needed. The outside world has no interest in helping the DRC get back on its feet. Having a broken infrastructure and a poor, ill-educated population makes it all the more easy for the rest of the world to exploit its resources.
A resource that is ripe for exploitation both internally (from within the Congo) and externally (nations who rape and exploit the DRC for its natural resources), a resource that could truly benefit local people and even the world, is the Itombwe forest and reserve - and its gorillas/wildlife.
However, according to a recent visitor to Congo; given the travel advisories issued by the United States, Canada, and European nations, it is hardly surprising there have been next to no tourists visiting the gorillas of Congo over the past 24 years. Few visitors venture into the DRC, the gorillas had just 75 visitors in 2017. If it were not for the support from international conservation organizations who contribute to the salaries of the rangers and trackers so that they can continue their constant vigilance, protection and monitoring of the gorillas, there would be no hope of their survival.
-The Itombwe forest, situated in the southern part of the Maiko-Taina-Kahuzi-Biega landscape, is the largest and most remote block of intact montane forest in Africa. The reserve is made up of 2,233 square miles (1,429,120 acres) of high altitude rainforest, bamboo forest, high altitude grasslands and rocky outcroppings. It is home to hundreds of species of wildlife including, 359 species of bird (more than forty of which are endemic), forest elephant, thirteen primate species (including the largest living primate on earth, the eastern lowland gorilla as well as the eastern chimpanzee). The Itombwe is under constant threat from the people who live alongside it. Poverty, a lack of jobs and education drive people into the Itombwe forest to cut down trees for firewood; to make charcoal to sell; to set snares for antelope and bush pig (snares don't discriminate); slash and burn agriculture... The Itombwe's forest and wildlife, it's gorillas and unique flora and fauna are no longer safe.
-In 2016 the government of Congo declared the Itombwe a protected conservation nature reserve, and bounderies were set. However, if action in favor of protecting this precious resource does not take place in such a way that benefits and captures the imagination of the local people... A great opportunity will be lost.
-Seeing an animal in its natural habitat is an increasingly rare experience these days. The human desire and need for more space and resources has resulted in extreme pressure and stress for the world's wildlife. In Congo, in the Itombwe, in a hidden corner of an often forgotten country, it is still possible to encounter the mesmerizing presence of a gorilla, a forest elephant, a chimpanzee...
"This is the DRC. There is an energy, an excitement, a vibrancy that is utterly infectious. I felt a huge grin stretch across my face. This is the Africa I love." - Kate Humble