In this territory, the reserve is the only source of cash for dozens of miles in every direction. If community members produce goods to sell, they must choose either a 10-13 day walk to Kisangani, where there are markets, or a 3-day walk to Befori, a small town on the river, which has a riverboat that travels to Mbandaka (but the trip could take one month). Most people have one outfit of clothing and it’s not uncommon to eat a single meal every couple of days.
There are several reasons for urgency. If the larger population of Africa’s chimpanzees could be reduced to 5% of what it was a hundred years ago, the bonobos—who may number as few as 5,000 and are spread over 139,000 square miles—will need a concerted human effort to ensure their survival.
One unexpected threat to that is the abundance of disillusioned youths who once worked with NGOs, whether humanitarian or conservation, who have left behind their commitment, “finished with saving the world”, frustrated by the infighting, the power grabs, and the projects that have more to do with the people running them than with what or whom they are trying to protect.
Béchard writes: “Before I’d come here, it was hard to feel the urgency of the problems and how long change takes, the constant attention to detail it requires, the endurance and patience.”
Reading Empty Hands, Open Arms is the closest I can get to understanding that.