Tuesday, August 7, 2012

From Ashes Life and Rebirth can Occur--for Nature and Humans

Over the last three weeks I've been in DRC (Katanga--the Southeast Region) assisting in activities by the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) in the development of a General Management Plan for two national parks--Upemba and Kundelungu (see previous posts #1 and #2 and #3) & UNHCR MAP. 

An Update from Kundelungu National Park on the High Katanga Plateau:

After a planning workshop in Lukafu (see previous post) I returned for a few days to Lubumbashi, arguably one of the richest cities in DRC and Africa, due to the major mines here, i.e. gold, casserite, coltan, copper and many other precious metals.  Yet it suffers from many of the ills plaguing this rich country though not as severe as north and south Kivu--see recent post on Facebook from OXFAM and the BBC on the "catastrophe" once again in full force there.  I was there in January-June 2010 (in Goma) which is at the center of the troubles there again, so am concerned for friends still there!

 So, my trip back up-country to beautiful Kundelungu was a respite from all the bad news, and it gave me a chance to focus on training colleagues to use a GPS to collect field mapping data, and to do "ground-truthing" of ecology sites for a colleague back in the US (Steve Schill of The Nature Conservancy) who is doing some technical satellite imagery analysis to prepare for making of a habitat and Landuse/Land Cover (LULC) change map.  

Below is a simple/rough map showing my route to various parts of Kundelungu (more will come later).  If you ever want to visit Kundelungu it is worth it--see previous POST for views during the wet-season.

In the photos below I want to give you a flavor for the landscapes and ecosystems of the unique Miombo Ecosystem found here (see also Southern Miombo Woodlands)--see the NEXT FIVE FOR MORE DETAIL ON THE ECOSYSTEMS FOUND IN KATANGA--start with:

NEXT:  The Conservation Values and Risks to the Kundelungu & Upemba Ecosystem

Summary: In sum it is particularly interesting at this time of the year--near the end of the dry season--because the landscape opens up and a lot of change is occurring.  There are still many fires burning, people are clearing fields for planting, cutting wood to produce charcoal, and making bricks--among other activities.  What is always amazing is how beautiful this time of the year can be, even though smoky and hazy.  But look between your feet and you will see new life sprouting up out of the ashes!  It is that vision of beauty out of ashes and rebirth of life--an age-old response by nature and humans--that we must build on for the future of this troubled land, and everywhere on Planet Earth, for that matter.  I will show just a few sample photos from an upcoming online album.  Enjoy!

Setting-sun in smoky afternoon skies over the Kundelungu Savanna
New flowers sprouting out of ASHES on the savanna.
The hotter the fire--the prettier the flowers--it seems
Wild roses on Savanna Grassland with a view
toward a Patch Forest on the High Plateau of Kundelungu
A deeply eroded hillside and mostly leafless trees of the Dry Forest
in Kundelungu National Park (see close-up below)
Re-sprouting trees and shrubs in the Dry Forest of
the lower slopes in Kundelungu National Park after Fire
 Termite mounds are still alive and new grass and shrubs
after fire on the Bush Savanna
 Beautiful red flowers in ashes
New grass shoots appear within days of the end of a fire

And, there can be Joy even in difficult poor countries--see the Kids!
And the Mango Trees do blossom again before the rains even come!

 And the kids dance!

Come back again for more on Kundelungu National park in a few days!  Bob Ford, August 7, 2012, Lubumbashi, Katanga, DRC (Congo)

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