Not only is ethnic violence in the Congo killing people, it seems to be killing hippos, elephants, baboons, and tilapia also. According to Delphine Schrank’s article As Go the Hippos… over at the Atlantic, Congolese wildlife is dwindling as rebels kill animals and displacement strains the local ecosystem. While the article falls into the tired trope of understanding conflict through the animalistic nature of African violence, it does outline the broader ecological impacts of the war beyond the mountain gorilla population. And, we get a wild-west account of what happens when her team spots a dubious man with a lot of fish in a bag:
“Thieves!” shouts one of the park rangers in our car. The two men run. Our SUV chases them toward a tarp, where two soldiers man a checkpoint between the rebel camp and the village.
The car doors fling open, and the rangers jump out and lunge at the thieves, while the soldiers leap to their feet. Amid shouts and scuffling, the sack opens, and stolen fish spill all over their wiry bearer. Covered in slime, the pirate fisherman slumps on the ground. A ranger grabs the other man, who stands limp and silent. The environmental activist fires questions at the two, demanding to know why they were fishing without licenses.
Word on the street: these pirate fisherman are forming their own militia called the National Liberation Front of Congolese Seafood.