Asian shares dip, worries over growth and trade sour mood



Asian stocks edged down on Wednesday on mounting signs of slowing global growth and anxiety over a yet-unresolved Sino-U.S. trade dispute.+ADw-div class+AD0AIg-feedflare+ACIAPg
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Trump won+ACYAIw-039+ADs-t soften hardline on China to make trade deal: advisers



As much as U.S. President Donald Trump wants to boost markets through a trade pact with China, he will not soften his position that Beijing must make real structural reforms, including how it handles intellectual property, to reach a deal, advisers say.+ADw-div class+AD0AIg-feedflare+ACIAPg
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Newark Airport resumes normal operations after drone sightings temporarily halt traffic



Reports of drone sightings in northern New Jersey temporarily halted arrivals at Newark Liberty International Airport on Tuesday, but normal operations had since been resumed, officials said.+ADw-div class+AD0AIg-feedflare+ACIAPg
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Oil prices extend falls as economic slowdown worries weigh on markets



Oil prices extended falls from the previous session on Wednesday, as concerns of an economic slowdown weighed on markets.+ADw-div class+AD0AIg-feedflare+ACIAPg
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House approves bill warning against U.S. NATO pullout



In a warning to President Donald Trump not to try to withdraw the United States from the NATO military alliance, the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday approved legislation aimed at preventing such a move.+ADw-div class+AD0AIg-feedflare+ACIAPg
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Cardiff City+ACYAIw-039+ADs-s Sala missing after plane disappears over English Channel



Cardiff City’s new soccer star, Emiliano Sala, was on board a light aircraft that disappeared en route to the Welsh capital for his club debut, France’s civil aviation authority said on Tuesday.+ADw-div class+AD0AIg-feedflare+ACIAPg
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TSA makes plea for backup as shutdown drags on

TSA makes plea for backup as shutdown drags on


The email, sent to TSA officials in more than 10 states with more than 100 airports, asks for employees to move from their home airports to those airports struggling with low staffing, an indication the agency is bracing for even more callouts.

The email is the latest example of increasing anxiety within TSA about the rising number of callouts as employees prepare to miss a second paycheck this week. Ten percent of TSA’s workforce had unexcused absences on Sunday, the agency said.

This is the second such request for more backup screeners to help fill staffing gaps, according to the email and a TSA official familiar with its contents.

All members of the agency’s National Deployment team, a rapid response team comprising of TSA officers can be sent to airports across the country to help fill the staffing gaps, have already been dispatched, according to the email. The team has been used to patch up gaps at airports in Atlanta, New York, Chicago and elsewhere as the partial government shutdown extends into its fifth week.

The Atlanta airport, already the world’s busiest, is preparing for an influx of travelers in just under two weeks when the city hosts the Super Bowl.

The deployment team fluctuates in size based on the conditions and needs, said TSA spokesman Jim Gregory.

“We are working every day to ensure our checkpoints are fully covered nationwide and always are welcoming new volunteers,” Gregory said, noting the employees would not be paid until the end of the shutdown. “Our workforce is incredibly mission-focused, and we have had hundreds answer the call.”

91 (and counting) very real direct effects of the partial government shutdown

The volunteers would presumably come from airports that haven’t faced strain from callouts in order to help airports that have.

A similar request made last week netted the agency at least 160 volunteers, the email said.

In another sign of how badly volunteers are needed, the email reminds TSA officials the agency would pick up the cost of their hotel and travel. According to the email, officers will use their government-issued credit cards for meals and incidentals, but those credit card payments would not have to be made until the government reopens.

Gregory said the agency is working to reduce the need to close security checkpoints and lanes but acknowledges more could close as the government shutdown continues.

“In coordination with the airlines and airport authorities, our federal security directors will implement contingency plans as necessary, which could mean lane closures. We have seen very few lane closures across the nation so far,” he said.

The number of TSA officers calling out from work has grown in recent days.

Here are 6 scenarios that could ACTUALLY end the government shutdown

After callouts hit 10% on Sunday nationwide, according to TSA, 7.5% of employees called out Monday, compared to 3.3% on the same Monday a year ago.

“Many employees are reporting that they are not able to report to work due to financial limitations,” TSA said in a statement.

In early January, CNN first reported that hundreds of TSA officers had called out from work, raising concerns among union officials and screeners that the security of air travel would be negatively impacted.
One regional TSA manager told screeners at Palm Springs International Airport, a small airport in California, that excessive absences have “adversely impacted security operations” at the airport, and warned of “disciplinary action” for employees who miss work.



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Rwanda relaxation: A luxury jungle escape with volcanoes, gorillas and adventure


(CNN) — Just meters from the balcony of the hotel room, a troop of black and white colobus monkeys scouts the treetops for tender leaves.

A tiny infant clings to her mother’s long black fur as she jumps from one spindly branch to another, her distinctive white mantle flowing behind her.

The resort is among several brand new ventures that are helping Rwanda establish its credentials as a luxury travel destination, particularly for people flying from Europe looking for temperate year-round escapes.

Almost a quarter of a century after it was headline news as it was sucked into a vortex of violence and genocide that left it in ruins, the central African country has flourished, and is now regarded as one of the safest places on the continent for travelers.

The main draw remains Volcanoes National Park in the northwest, home to a 480-strong population of mountain gorillas made famous by Dian Fossey, the American researcher played by Sigourney Weaver in “Gorillas in the Mist.”

Seeing them isn’t cheap though.

In May 2017, Rwandan authorities doubled the fee for gorilla permits from $750 to $1,500, citing a desire to ensure that communities living near the park area receive a larger share of tourism revenues.

Luxury options

One&Only Nyungwe House (1)

One&Only Nyungwe House is Nyungwe Forest National Park’s first five-star accommodation option.

Courtesy One&Only Nyungwe House

Since the price rise some tourists wishing to track mountain gorillas have opted to visit Uganda, where permits are $600.

For many, the experience in Rwanda is worth the additional cost, largely due to the country’s hassle-free visa-on-arrival service, stellar safety record, luxury accommodation options and excellent roads, which mean the journey from the capital Kigali to Volcanoes National Park is less than three hours by car.

Travelers can also fly directly to Kigali from a number of major international European cities, including London, Amsterdam and Brussels. Rwandair is planning to launch a direct flight from New York in early 2019.

One&Only Nyungwe House (6)

Nyungwe House has 22 luxury rooms.

Courtesy One&Only Nyungwe House

Many travelers make quick visits in and out of the country, getting their gorilla snaps, before heading home or onto the next leg of a pan-African trip that perhaps includes a safari in Kenya or a beach holiday in Tanzania.

To encourage longer stays and visits to the country’s other spectacular natural sites, gorilla permits are being discounted by $450 during low season for anyone booking an activity in Akagera or Nyungwe National Parks via the main government Irembo platform.

A range of new high-end hotel options gives jetsetters other reasons to stay longer in this beautiful country.

In the east the recently replenished Akagera National Park has luxury accommodation and the Big Five. In the southwest, One&Only Nyungwe House, which opened in October 2018, is the first five-star accommodation in Nyungwe Forest National Park.
One&Only Nyungwe House (9)

The resort’s got all the usual luxuries you’d expect.

Courtesy One&Only Nyungwe House

It’s one of the most exclusive lodges on the continent, with 22 luxury rooms and suites set on the edge of the park’s dramatic mountains.

The usual luxury trappings of wellness experiences, rainforest infinity pool and detox smoothies are enhanced by the huge range of outdoor activities on offer.

Helicopter tours

One&Only Nyungwe House (3)

Colobus monkeys can be seen from the hotel room balcony at One&Only.

Courtesy One&Only Nyungwe House

Several hiking trails start from the resort and lead deep into the jungle, including the Isumo Trail, which culminates in Nyungwe’s biggest waterfall, thundering down to produce dramatic plumes of mist above the rocky river.

The resort offers a number of experiences, from traditional African spear-throwing and hilltop archery, to nocturnal walks and helicopter tours that take in the epic panorama of Nyungwe Forest, Lake Kivu and other landmarks, starting from the venue’s private helipad.

Visit-Rwanda_-Lake-Kivu-Drone-of-Islands

Helicopter tours over the national park offer amazing views of Lake Kivu.

Courtesy Visit Rwanda

Another highlight is “nature’s bootcamp,” an exhilarating early morning run and kinetic workout along a track surrounding the resort’s tea plantations. The run makes regular stops to observe the spectacular bird life, from dazzling great blue turacos to a male pin-tailed whydah in breeding plumage, gliding effortlessly through the air with its broad ribbon-like tail.

The resort pays special attention to nature conservation and the support of local communities. Every last Saturday of the month guests can get involved in Umuganda, a nationwide program where citizens devote one morning of every month to working in the local community.

One&Only Nyungwe House (13)

The Canopy Walk in Nyungwe is a 200-meter-long walkway across a deep valley.

Courtesy One&Only Nyungwe House

The majority of activities in the heart of Nyungwe National Park begin from the nearby Uwinka Visitor Center.

Hikers can choose from a range of trails, ranging in length and difficulty, that snake through the immense equatorial rainforest, including the challenging Rukuzi Trail which offers views across to Lake Kivu and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and an opportunity to see some of the National Park’s 13 species of primates.

The visitor center is also the starting point for the Canopy Walk, one activity that’s not to be missed. The first of its kind in East Africa, the 200-meter long walkway hangs across a deep valley filled with thick forest, lush flora and giant ferns, transporting visitors above the canopy and face to face with the tropical rainforest’s butterflies, birds and monkeys.

Natural intimacy

One&Only Nyungwe House (2)

Seeing chimpanzees in their natural habitat is a big draw for tourists in Nyungwe National Park.

Courtesy One&Only Nyungwe House

Undoubtedly one of Nyungwe National Park’s biggest draws is the opportunity to track chimpanzees in their natural habitat. The forest is home to one of East Africa’s last intact chimpanzee populations, and for those willing to hike through the steep, muddy off-track terrain, the rewards are great.

It involves an early start — tours leave Nyungwe House at 4:45 a.m., although there’s freshly made coffee and a packed breakfast for the hour-long drive to Cyamudongo forest.

When our rangers tracked down a group of 10 or more chimpanzees, the chimps were lazily resting in the treetops after any early feed. We settled in a clearing and watched them bending branches to make temporary nests, while Dent’s mona monkeys and white-bearded L’Hoest’s monkeys kept us entertained, howling and leaping in the canopy overhead.

One&Only Nyungwe House (8)

The One&Only Nyungwe House experience will cost you at least $1,500 a night.

Courtesy One&Only Nyungwe House

When the chimpanzees awoke, their booming sounds filled the forest, and we had a matter of minutes for close observation and photographs before the group disappeared into the vastness of the jungle once again.

While many international tourists will still come to Africa in search of colonial-style safaris, white sand beaches, and natural wonders like Victoria Falls, Rwanda’s new luxury lodges provide an intimacy with the natural world. But these experiences don’t come cheap. A night at One&Only Nyungwe House will set you back at least $1,500, and that’s before you’ve booked any excursions or hit the bar.

Without one major blockbuster attraction, like the mountain gorillas, it still remains to be seen whether travelers will make the journey down to Nyungwe to experience all that the National Park has to offer.

One thing is for certain. For wealthy intrepid travelers, looking to reconnect with nature, explore one of the continent’s most pristine and untouched rainforests and trek where few outsiders have gone before, there are few better places to do it from.



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Senate to vote on ending government shutdown, Trump wall impasse



The U.S. Senate shifted slightly closer on Tuesday to resolving a month-long partial government shutdown, but there was no sign of relief anytime soon for 800,000 federal workers who are furloughed or working without pay.+ADw-div class+AD0AIg-feedflare+ACIAPg
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Can the Congo save itself, and its mythical okapi?

Can the Congo save itself, and its mythical okapi?


The striped okapi is often described as half-zebra, half-giraffe, as if it were a hybrid creature from a Greek legend. So rare is the okapi, that it was unknown to the western world until the turn of the 20th century.

While the okapi is virtually unheard of in the West, its image pervades life in the Democratic Republic of Congo — the only country in the world where it is found living in the wild — gracing cigarette packets, plastic water bottles, and even the back of rumpled Congolese Francs. The okapi is to the Congo what the giant panda is to China or the kangaroo to Australia.

Today, only 10,000 remain.

Three decades ago, an American scientist made it his life mission to protect this rare mammal by co-managing the Okapi Wildlife Reserve in eastern Congo. The reserve is roughly the size of Yellowstone National Park, in the United States, but that’s where the similarities end.

The Okapi Wildlife Reserve is among the most dangerous places on earth to visit.

Armed militia stalk the dirt roads, illegal gold and diamond mines operate with near impunity and ivory poachers are rife. Compounding matters, the region is currently battling the country’s worst Ebola outbreak to date.

This week, as the country accepts opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi as winner of a disputed landmark election, the nation stands on a precipice.

The okapi’s fate, once again, rides on the country’s next move.

Welcome to Zaire

When 37-year-old John Lukas touched down in the capital of Kinshasa aboard a rickety cargo plane in the late 1980s, the Congo was a very different place to the one he navigates today.

This vast nation that spans two time zones had not a single road joining east to west. But under military dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, the flamboyant leader famed for his leopard-print hats, life was relatively stable, says Lukas. After independence from Belgium in 1960, hope was in the air.

“Under Mobutu, any person in the Congo could go anywhere safely,” he says. “You never felt threatened.”

Mobutu Sese Seko sporting his signature headgear.

A Florida-based zoology graduate, Lukas had been leading Big Game safaris in eastern and southern Africa for years, but there was one strange animal he had seen in American zoos and longed to admire in the wild.

About the size of a horse, the okapi is a close relative of the lanky and long-necked yellow giraffes we know today. “It is amazing biology,” says Lukas. The okapi can lick the back of its own neck with its 18-inch tongue, and its glossy coat feels like velvet. Most newborns of any species defecate within 12 hours of birth, says Lukas, but okapis hold their first stool for 60 days, to avoid giving leopards a scent to hunt. An okapi can twitch each ear independently.

Lukas was smitten.

In 1987, he arrived in Epulu — a seven-day overland journey from Goma, a city in the east — with a group of talented conservationists. In the 1980s, the Congo had an active Ministry of Environment serious about protecting the country’s natural bounty, and Lukas’ group worked with ministers to promote the country’s national animal. In 1992, the Okapi Reserve was officially recognized by the government.

Under Mobutu, this part of the Ituri Rainforest had been earmarked as a mineral reserve, to protect future mining opportunities. As a result, it was virtually free of development, providing the ideal habitat for the reclusive okapi.

Mbuti pygmies village have been living in the Ituri rainforest for thousands of years. The Okapi Reserve supports their nomadic lifestyle, providing healthcare and financial assistance.

“Our mission from the government was to … make Epulu known for the okapi. To let people see the animal,” says Lukas.

Felly Mwamba, a trader who was born and grew up in Kinshasa, explains that while everyone in the Congo knows what an okapi is, most people have never seen one in real life. “Many years ago, I saw one in Kinshasa Zoo,” Mwamba says. “But they aren’t there any more.”

Joining Lukas were Congolese conservationist Jean N’lamba, Swiss zoologist Karl Ruf and his wife, former office worker Rosmarie Ruf, who had followed her husband to Africa, as well as officials from the Congolese Wildlife Authority (ICCN).
It was not a life-threatening mission. The okapi was not an endangered animal.

That all came later.

An African donkey, I presume

The West got its first whiff of the okapi in 1890 when Welsh journalist Henry Morton Stanley had puzzled over a strange “African donkey” in his book. After greeting missing Victorian missionary David Livingstone with the words “Dr Livingstone, I presume,” in Tanganyika in 1871, the writer was already famous.

But Stanley’s real legacy was the role he played in Europe’s colonization of Africa.

After the British government declined to fund his exploration of the Congo, Stanley was approached by King Leopold II of Belgium, who was eager to exploit Africa’s wealth. Using forced labor, Stanley oversaw the backbreaking construction of roads, entirely by hand, across the Congo and helped Leopold claim the territory as a private fiefdom.

Congo was 76 times the size of Belgium, and Leopold got rich off its ivory and vast rubber reserves without ever stepping foot there.

Scant investment was made in the Congo or its people, and by the time the Belgian government took control from Leopold in 1908, millions of Congolese had died or been mutilated: One particularly barbaric act saw locals who failed to meet their rubber quotas punished by having their hands chopped off.

An okapi hide; Welsh writer Henry Morton Stanley’s book; and the author.

In the early 20th century, the roads that rapacious colonization had built now ferried a trickle of adventurous visitors from the West across the territory. One such tropical tourist was Harvard-educated Patrick Putman, who in 1933 alighted in the eastern Congo and opened a small hotel and a roadside zoo in Epulu, where he lived with a succession of American and African wives. It was the first time okapis had been domesticated in Epulu.

An okapi’s tongue can be 18-inches long.

An okapi with a ranger at the reserve.

“They were a novelty to Western people,” says Lukas.

Previously, it was believed the Opaki was a new species of zebra. It was only later, when okapi skeleton was analyzed, did naturalists realize they had a giraffe on their hands.
Putman died in 1953 and seven years later the Congo gained independence, sparking a civil war that overran the area. All 26 okapis at the base wandered back into the Ituri rainforest.

A remote paradise

In the early 1990s, the Okapi Wildlife Reserve was a little nook of paradise. Slim sunbeams filtered through the canopy beaming patches of light onto the forest floor. Tree pangolins scaled giant trunks, forest elephants trundled safely along, tropical birdsong wafted on the breeze.

“Once you were in, there was no communication with the outside world,” says Lukas. “You would write letters home and hopefully somebody wrote back.” Everything in the camp, from wire fencing to microscopes, had to be flown in to Epulu, a village located inside the rainforest but just outside the reserve.

Top: John Lukas at the reserve in the early years. Below: With an okapi, when they were still kept at the Epulu station.
In the first half of the 20th century, the Belgians had airlifted animals from Epulu to Antwerp Zoo, where in 1957 the first okapi was born in captivity, enabling other foreign zoos to take stock. By the 1990s, the gene pool of the global zoo population was slim and failing. Now Lukas’ group dug pits along okapi trails to capture animals to breed at the base, and three babies were born: One female and two males. “We sent those calves around the world,” Lukas says. “They had lots of offspring.” The roughly 200 okapis in zoos in New York, Chicago, Dublin, and Tokyo today are largely descend from that trio.

A wild okapi caught on a forest camera in the Congo.

Lukas split his time between Congo and Florida, where he drummed up dollars for the reserve and conducted ground-breaking scientific research. Using NASA-provided sound-boosting technology, his team gathered data that helped prove okapis communicate via infrasonic noises imperceptible to humans. “It’s quite dinosaur-like,” Lukas says.

But as the team’s work thrived, the Congo was becoming a shadow of a state.

After rising to power, Mobutu had renamed the Congo Zaire, cloaked himself in leopard skin and drained the country’s coffers, buying off his enemies to maintain stability. His sleepy birth town of Gbadolite in the north, was turned into a lavish city, nickednamed the “Versailles of the Jungle.” Replete with Western-style malls, supermarkets and a five-star hotel, it also featured three opulent palaces with Louis XIV furniture, Italian marble and illuminated fountains. In 1985, Gaston Lenôtre, then the world’s leading pastry chef, was flown in to Gbadolite aboard Concorde with a birthday cake for Mobutu.
A soldier steps across an overgrown fountain in front of one of the late Mobutu Sesse Seko's palaces September 15, 2000 in Gbadolite, Congo. All three of the elaborate palaces in Gbadolite have long been looted.

The country had, once again, been robbed.

In 1997, while Mobutu was getting cancer treatment in Europe, Laurent Kabila marched into Kinshasa and took over the country. The coup divided the region.

Kabila had used Rwandan-backed soldiers to win power, on the condition that Hutu rebels, who had committed Rwanda’s genocide and were now hiding in the Congo, would be returned home to face justice once he assumed power. Kabila defaulted on that promise, and sparked the bloody conflict that came to be called Africa’s First World War.

Rwanda and Uganda sent anti-Kabila soldiers into the Congo, while Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe propped up the government. Millions of lives were lost, mostly from disease and hunger, and infrastructure in the east of the country was decimated.

Laurent Kabila (left) and his son Joseph Kabila (right).

Kabila was shot dead by his body guard half way through the war, and his son Joseph Kabila took power.

“The bad governance Joseph Kabila inherited from Mobutu, he sophisticated and adapted to a more globalized world,” says Kris Berwouts, a Belgian Kinshasa-based author of several books about Central Africa. From 1999 to 2002 alone, the Kabila regime transferred ownership of at least $5 billion of assets from the state-mining sector to private companies under its control, according to the United Nations.

When the war ended in 2003, on a local level the state evaporated, says Berwouts. Hospitals were places people went to die, the state provided no education. “The state simply does not exist anymore,” he says. “Which leaves the field to armed actors.”

Guns, gold and grit

During those warring years, Lukas became something of a diplomat. “There were several rebel groups, as well as the Rwandan and Ugandan armies, and the Congolese government, fighting back and forth over territories in the eastern Congo,” Lukas says. “We’d be negotiating with whoever was in control for the safe passage for our workers.”

In 2003, Karl Ruf, N’lamba and Kambale Saambile, a rising star in the okapi project, had just struck such a deal with notorious war lord Jean-Pierre Bemba. On the drive home from the successful meeting, an out-of-control bus collided with their car on a mountain pass.

Rosmarie and Karl Ruf feeding an okapi.

“In one blow, we lost our three top people,” says Lukas. Karl’s wife Rosmarie was in Switzerland. “It was a disaster,” she says. Rosmarie decided to take over her husband’s legacy and manage the reserve. “I knew I could not stop doing it,” she says. “My husband would be not happy if I left the Congo and gave up.”

More trouble was ahead.

As state institutions collapsed, the Congo’s population had boomed. There are an estimated 80 million people in the country, but the last census was in 1986. Today, the number is surely higher. Ruf says people increasingly began moving onto the reserve, either to practice slash-and-burn agriculture, poach or mine, putting okapis under threat.

The government deployed rangers to protect the area, and Lukas topped up their salary of $43 a month with bonuses for each collected snare or completed patrol.

Jean Paul Monga, 40, has been a ranger at the reserve since 2001. Ten years ago, he says, rangers might have encountered small groups of four or five poachers. “Today, you’ll find gangs of 30 or 40 people hunting inside the reserve,” he says. “They are determined. They want to get ivory and, if you come across them, they will open fire.”

A mine on the Okapi Reserve, as seen from aerial survey.

Gold (left) panned from an illegal mine in Ituri.

Closing down mines and poachers, however, is a delicate matter in an impoverished country where employment opportunities are virtually non-existent.

Neighboring Rwanda, now considered a beacon of African stability, has turned its mountain gorilla population into lucrative tourism dollars. A trek with a mountain gorilla in Rwanda costs $1,500, and tourism accounts for 13% of the country’s GDP, providing Rwandans with an incentive to support conservation. Congo also has mountain gorillas in Virunga Park, just south of the Okapi Reserve, but after two British tourists were kidnapped there last year, the region is considered too dangerous for a viable tourism industry. “We get one or two tourists coming through,” Lukas says. “I don’t know if they’re brave or stupid.”
The thundering Afarama Waterfall inside the Okapi Reserve.

In 2012, the Okapi Wildlife Reserve experienced its worst attack, when armed rebels stormed the Epulu station. All 14 domestic okapi at the base died, buildings were torched and 100 people were kidnapped, the men used as porters, the women taken as wives.

The rebels thought the reserve was finished, says Rosmarie, but her team persisted.

The ICCN headquarters at Epulu looted and burned after 2012 attack.

“The beautiful places are now filled with armed groups who live beyond state control and only have that for feeding themselves,” Berwouts says.

Okapis have not been kept at the Epulu station since.

Democracy delayed

On December 30, 2018, Congo went to the polls. The national constitution stipulates a two-term presidential limit, and having overstayed by two years, Kabila was finally getting out the way of democracy. It was set to be the country’s first peaceful democratic transfer of power.

Lukas and Ruf waited out the drama from Florida and Switzerland, respectively. It was a landmark moment for the Congo. And it went awry.

Health workers inside a new MSF (Doctors Without Borders) Ebola treatment center in Bunia, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The country’s influential Catholic church’s 40,000 election observers found that Martin Faylul won. But opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi was declared the winner amid widespread irregularities and allegations of rigging.

“Kabila is very smart and he knows how to work the system,” says Lukas. “He wants to run again in 2023, and he wanted to keep the party in control.”

On January 19, the Constitutional Court validated the results of the election, despite requests from the African Union to delay swearing in a new president while they investigated. In Epulu, the internet has been turned off for weeks — a government move to stem unrest — and Ebola remains about 200 kilometers from the reserve, having now claimed more than 400 lives.

Lukas is determined to hold the line, waiting for an upturn in the Congo’s fortunes that has proved to be as elusive as the okapi.

A bongo antelope.

He is plotting to expand his project to Maiko National Park to the south, where rebels are winning over conservation. “It’s a spectacular place with bongo antelope, okapis and gorillas,” he says. “Nobody can go there, it needs our help. I don’t have much time left, so I’m going to spend every moment making a difference.”

Meanwhile, the 50 cent note that okapis so gracefully decorate is now so worth little in the Congo’s devalued currency system that it is out of circulation.



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