UPDATE: WE HAVE REACHED OUR GOAL! THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO CHIPPED IN!
On June 24th, 2012, over 50 Mai Mai Simba bandits armed with automatic weapons invaded the small town of Epulu, D.R. Congo, headquarters for the Okapi Faunal Reserve, killing seven people and 13 captive Okapis, raping women, looting, burning buildings, and taking hostages. This attack was not political, but motivated by anger that the ICCN, the Congolese Conservation authority, had been cracking down on wildlife poaching within the reserve.
Among those who fled to the forest to escape was Albert Walanga, one of the chief participants in the 2010 Upper Congo Fishes Project. He was in Epulu doing an ecology internship. Albert lost nearly all his personal belongings to these criminals, including his laptop computer (thankfully his backup drive was subsequently recovered and may be intact).
Although a laptop is critical to his work and education, Albert has no means to replace it. It will be difficult enough replacing everything else he has lost and getting back on track after this traumatic event during which he spent four days hiding in the forest. While there were many victims of this attack, some of whom suffered much more, Albert deserves our help as a prime contributor to the Upper Congo Fishes Project and as a promising Congolese ichthyologist.
We have initiated this small campaign to raise the funds to buy Albert a modest laptop. I (JPS) will be returning to Kisangani in November of this year and can deliver it to him in person. Any funds raised in excess of the $800 goal will be passed on to other victims of this event.
WE HAVE RAISED THE MONEY FOR A NEW LAPTOP FOR ALBERT. THANK YOU, EVERYONE!
For more information on this attack and its aftermath as well as other ways you can help, see the Okapi Conservation Project website. You can give to an emergency appeal to restore the Epulu station here.
See this page for a harrowing account from an American researcher on his flight from the Epulu station.
The photo shows Albert negotiating the price of a Chrysichthys in the Congo River village of Batikamoundje in March of 2010.