Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Lubumbashi--here we come!

A close friend and neighbor of mine in Rockville Utah--Michael McBride--has joined me for 2-3 weeks of the consultancy I'm starting in DRC/Congo (see previous post HERE).  This morning we started a very important workshop that will create a new GMP (General Management Plan) for the two national parks we are assisting--Upemba and Kundelungu. This work will launch a process that over the next few years should assist in rehabilitating what are truly two ecological gems in the Congolese constellation of protected areas--places that unfortunately have seen significant degradation, conflict, and loss of management control over the last few years. Both Michael and I and another colleague--Steve Schill from The Nature Conservancy--will discuss in later posts the exciting opportunities and challenges we see here.  Wish us luck!

But before we started work this morning we had a couple days to explore downtown Lubumbashi, Katanga Province, DRC/Central Africa (see photos below).  And, we're also coping with severe jetlag--hence the blogging in the early wee hours--and the bleary eyes!  Michael has also started a BLOG of his own which is linked to his business Alaska Wilderness Lodge--a truly spectacular adventure touring destination and great place to get in touch with your soul and nature--see more HERE.  Michael is a great observer of people and nature, a passionate conservationist, perceptive writer, intrepid bush pilot and friend; I value so much the opportunity he has given me by showing me--again--what it is like to see new places with a fresh set of eyes!  He will also be describing in his blog what this new part of Africa means to him!  He has already contributed many ideas and suggestions that will assist this trend-setting project--thank you Michael!

So, come back often and visit our blogs and maybe even let us know of ways to support this innovative and courageous attempt at "ecological restoration" in the DRC/Congo being managed by the  Frankfurt Zoological Society!  If park restoration can work here it can happen anywhere!

See select photos below taken by Michael; I've been too busy preparing for the workshop to take photos of my own and really appreciate his sharing these with us.  But once the workshop is over--and we can get to the field--I will share some of my own photographic memories of what is a new place and experience for me as well.  I can hardly wait to get to the field--workshops are important but they are just the "prelude" to doing the real work--in my view!

Bob checking in at the Park Hotel in Lubumbashi
Michael at the entrance of our Hotel--note beautiful copper art work on the wall!
The central roundabout of downtown--one block away from our Hotel
Physical evidence of the infrastructure degradation visible everywhere in this city of probably over 2 million in what is one of the richest countries in the world--in minerals and other resources.  It saddens me but also seeing how the brave Congolese cope--is a testament to the human ability to adapt and move ahead!

Bob at one of the monuments downtown
Michael at the same fountain
Some of the truly stunningly well-dressed women who were out with family on Easter Sunday.  again, the ability of the Congolese to rise above the degradation around them and enjoy life and dress the part--is truly impressive!

My best, Bob Ford


  1. Thanks for sharing Bob - Looking forward to joining you and Michael! Looks like we have our work cut out for us.

  2. Yes, it will be a real challenge! But rewarding as well....