A promise of developing and achieving
comprehensive environmental/wildlife conservation;
an improved self-sustainable quality of life
for local families and communities;
and an intentional symbiotic relationship between both,
across the Greater Itombwe Massif
of the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
It was a warm sunny and bright African afternoon. We had gathered as leaders and community members beneath an ancient tree. Upon being asked to address this group about the urgency of implementing a conservation plan of action that would meet with the approval and support of the local people, I decided to tell this story:
"A time of severe drought had covered the land. Africa was baking to death in the sun. One very lonely emaciated antelope stood in the heated shadows of a dying tree. Something very remarkable took place. Three of Africa's great cats came together to hunt this singular remaining antelope, driven by hunger, each ignoring the other. Under normal conditions, a lion, a leopard and a cheetah would never share the same space and time. Yet, this was not a normal situation. Desperate and starving, the three great cats began to discuss amongst each other their respective strengths and abilities to secure what might be their last opportunity for a meal. The lion proclaimed his advantage of strength. To which the leopard put forward his advantage of stealth. The cheetah indicated that his advantage of speed was the only hope of covering the distance...
It is well known in African custom, that one never imposes or interrupts a conversation without a polite cough - seeking acknowledgement. In the midst of this intense conversation between Africa's competing cats, and from the branches of the dying tree, came the unmistakable cough of a baboon. All three cats looked up as the baboon gave counsel. While all of you were focused on yourselves in elaborate conversation, you failed to notice that your opportunity is gone. The cats turned their heads only to realize that the antelope had long departed."
I looked at the community leaders sitting beneath that tree and concluded with this statement: "While we are often busy discussing important things amongst ourselves, we need to be careful that when God offers a very special opportunity, we must make our best decision and take action before the baboon coughs." - Itombwe Conservation President David Bates
Opportunity ...Before the Baboon Coughs
"I just wish the world was twice as big, and half of it was still unexplored." - David Attenborough -