TREKKING IN CANYON DEL MUERTO – CANYON DE CHELLY NATIONAL MONUMENT

INTRODUCTION

During the years 1966 – 1971 I was photographing car races, and from 1970 on also an Indian tribe in Venezuela. In October -November 1968 I was coverin the CAN-AM (group 7) series of races. I had photographed the penultimate race in Riverside, and I was on my way, traveling by car, to the last race in Las Vegas. While in Arizona I suppose that someone suggested that I visit the Canyon de Chelly National Monument, inside the Navajo Indian Reservation. I don’t remember where I spent the night and where I left my car; I got a ride to the unofficial “entrance” of the reserve.  I think I entered the reserve through or below barbed wires… I am not sure if it was from the Window Rock – Tsaile road or from the Tsaile – Chinle road. In the first case I would have seen the dam on the Tsaile creek and the lake; in the alternative case I would have entered Middle Trail Canyon. Glenn Rink who studied the vegetation of the reserve thinks: “I am not sure where you entered the canyons, but I’ll bet it was at Middle Trail Canyon, the small northern tributary to Canyon del Muerto.”

My thanks

to Glenn Rink who identified some of the trees and plants in these pictures.

Photos 1 – 2 were taken where I spent the night (in a tube tent -see drawing after the photographs), next to the creek. Probably some 3 to 5 hours from the road. Obviously there were oak trees besides the conifers.

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Cliffs in Canyon del Morto. Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona, USA. Probably Douglas fir trees on the right side.

 

This is about where I spent the night in a tube tent. In the morning the creek was partially frozen.

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Canyon del Morto in Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona, USA. Morning ice on Tsaile Creek (early November).Gambel oak leaves. Gambel Oak (Quercus gambelii) FAGACEAE

 

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Canyon del Morto in Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona, USA. Coniferous forest. Probably Douglas fir. The fall color tree might be a Gambel oak.

 

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Canyon del Morto in Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona, USA. Cliffs and coniferous trees. Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa Pinaceae )on the left. Probably a Pinyon pine on the right. Douglas fir against the rock.

 

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Canyon del Morto in Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona, USA. Cliffs and coniferous trees. Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii family: Pinaceae) (top right, agaist rock) center right: shorter ones are probably junipers, could be Rocky Mountain.

 

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USA, Arizona, Canyon de Chelly National Monument,. Mummy cave ruins of Ancient Pueblo Peoples (also called Anasazi).

 

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Canyon del Morto in Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona, USA. Bottom of canyon and cliffs. Cottonwoods on the left. Phragmites lining the channel on the left. The lighter colored bushes may be rabbitbrush (Ericameria nauseosa Asteraceae)

Navajo horses.

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Horses belonging to Navajo Indians running in bottom of Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona, USA. Cottonwood trees at base of cliff.

 

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Canyon del Morto in Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona, USA. Rocks and fall leaves against blue sky with light clouds.

 

When I reached the entrance of the Monument the ranchers were puzzled, seeing someone coming from nowhere. They asked me where I came from. I said from the road near Tsaile, initially walking down the creek bed, then following trails. They said they had never been there…

This is how I described a tube tent in a letter to my family.

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Links

Map:

Canyon de Chelly National Monument Vegetation Mapping Project – USGS-NPS

 

VASCULAR FLORA and VEGETATION CHANGE at CANYON DE CHELLY NATIONAL MONUMENT, APACHE COUNTY, ARIZONA

By Glenn Rink. Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ   (page with download link)

 

Threat of invasive species:

Cooperative Watershed Restoration Project: Tamarisk and Russian Olive Management at Canyon de Chelly National Monument. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior

 

 

 

 

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Three fast Kiwi drivers – two different driving styles.

BRUCE_DESATThe late sixties – early seventies saw three talented New Zealand drivers compete in Formula 1 and other races: Bruce McLaren, Chris Amon and Denny Hulme. Of course Bruce McLaren, although killed tragically while testing a car, survives through the McLaren team and factory.

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Bruce McLaren entering the Gazomètre turn at Monaco in 1968.

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Going through my file of transparencies I found these pictures of Amon and Hulme at the same spot at the Gazomètre hairpin in Monaco in 1967. They show a marked difference in their driving styles: while Amon (Ferrari) makes the turn smoothly, as on rails,

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Formula 1 driver Chris Amon of New Zealand driving a Ferrari at the Gazomètre hairpin at the Monaco Grand Prix in 1967.

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Hulme (Brabham-Repco) throws his car in oversteer in the curve, controlling the slide by opposite lock (the front wheels turned the “wrong” way). The race was won by Hulme, who became world champion that year.

 

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Formula One driver Denny Hulme driving his Brabham-Repco at the Gazomètre hairpin at the Grand Prix of Monaco in 1967. Hulme throws his car in oversteer in the curve, controlling the slide by opposite lock. Hulme won the race and was World Champion in 1967.

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Denny Hulme at apex of Gazomètre turn at 1967 Monaco Grand Prix, which he won, Driving a Brabham with Repco engine.

 

This Grand Prix was marked by the tragic death of Lorenzo Bandini.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Great Racing Cars and Drivers   by Charles Fox.  Grosset & Dunlap, Inc. and The Ridge Press, Inc., 1972

McLaren  50 Years of Racing    by Maurice Hamilton with Paul Fearnley.  Prestel, 2013.

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THE CERRADOS (SAVANNAS) OF BRAZIL

“The Cerrado Biome is one of the world’s principal centers of biodiversity, ranked by Myers et al. (2000) as among 25 global hotspots of absolute importance for conservatin.” (Ratter, Bridgewater and Ribeiro, Chapter 2, p. 34 in Neotropical Savannas and Seasonally Dry Forests, edited by R.T. Pennington et al., 2006 – see bibliography below)

This biodiversity is disappearing fast . Much of it may already be lost forever.

After presenting in my last post some aspects of the destruction of the largest biome in Brazil, the Amazon Rainforest, I am presenting the second largest biome, the cerrado (Brazilian savannas), a ancient biome dating from the Pliocene and Pleistocene, rich in biodiversity, which is in a much worse state of destruction than the Amazon rainforest: more than 50% are irreversibly destroyed by the agribusiness (Professor Altair Sales Barbosa – text in Portuguese – translation by Google Translator is good) . As opposed to my previous post which shows the destruction of the Amazon rainforest , I will show selected facies of the cerrado in its natural state where it has been preserved, mainly in the chapadas (mountainous plateaus) where agricultural machinery cannot be used.

Cerrado “sensu stricto”.
An open woodland letting through enough light to allow the growth of a grass ground cover.

Wooded savanna (called cerrado in Brazil), end of dry season. Minas Gerais - Bahia State, Brazil. Stemless palm is Attalea geraensis.

Wooded savanna (called cerrado in Brazil), end of dry season. Minas Gerais – Bahia State, Brazil. Stemless palm is Attalea geraensis.

Cerrado (savanna or wooded savanna) showing trees with contorted trunks and branches and thick bark which acts as a protection to fire. Brazilian Highlands, Brazilian Shield, northern Goias, Brazil.

Cerrado (savanna or wooded savanna) showing trees with contorted trunks and branches and thick bark which acts as a protection to fire. Brazilian Highlands, Brazilian Shield, northern Goias, Brazil.

Vereda, a treeless grassland on seasonally waterlogged soil.

Two different ecosystems in savanna (cerrado) biome: vereda, a treeless grassland on seasonally waterlogged soil, with buriti palm (Mauritia flexuosa) along small stream; and campos rupestres, saxicolous vegetation on hilly rock outcrop. Brazilian Highlands, Goiás State, Brazil

Two different ecosystems in savanna (cerrado) biome: vereda, a treeless grassland on seasonally waterlogged soil, with buriti palm (Mauritia flexuosa) along small stream; and campos rupestres, saxicolous vegetation on hilly rock outcrop. Brazilian Highlands, Goiás State, Brazil

Vereda, a treeless grassland ecosystem on semi-waterlogged soil with stands of buriti palms (Mauritia flexuosa) in permanently wet spots. Savanna biome (called cerrado in Brazil). Grande Sertão Veredas National Park (or proximity), Minas Gerais or Bahia State, Brazil.

Vereda, a treeless grassland ecosystem on semi-waterlogged soil with stands of buriti palms (Mauritia flexuosa) in permanently wet spots. Savanna biome (called cerrado in Brazil). Grande Sertão Veredas National Park (or proximity), Minas Gerais or Bahia State, Brazil.

Forest galleries.

Savanna (cerrado) biome, Brazilian Highlands, Goiás State, Brazil: Mimosa foliolosa (Fabaceae - Leguminosae, Mimosoideae) in forest gallery of Rio Claro, in the watershed of Rio Tocantins.

Savanna (cerrado) biome, Brazilian Highlands, Goiás State, Brazil: Mimosa foliolosa (Fabaceae – Leguminosae, Mimosoideae) in forest gallery of Rio Claro, in the watershed of Rio Tocantins.

Rio Claro and its forest gallery, river in watershed or drainage basin of rio Tocantins in Brazilian Highlands (panalto Brasileiro), northern Goiás State, Brazil

Rio Claro and its forest gallery, river in watershed or drainage basin of rio Tocantins in Brazilian Highlands (panalto Brasileiro), northern Goiás State, Brazil

Tibouchina candolleana (Melastomataceae) with buriti palm (Mauritia flexuosa) in background, at fringe of forest gallery, Brazil Highlands (Brazilian shield, Planalto Brasileiro), Goias State, Brazil.

Tibouchina candolleana (Melastomataceae) with buriti palm (Mauritia flexuosa) in background, at fringe of forest gallery, Brazil Highlands (Brazilian shield, Planalto Brasileiro), Goias State, Brazil.

Vegetation on rock outcrops (saxicolous vegetation)  –  Campos Rupestres

Savanna (cerrado) biome, Brazilian Highlands, Goiás State, Brazil: vegetation on rock outcrop (saxicolous vegetation): Cactus: Pilosocereus machrisii (family Cactaceae).

Savanna (cerrado) biome, Brazilian Highlands, Goiás State, Brazil: vegetation on rock outcrop (saxicolous vegetation): Cactus: Pilosocereus machrisii (family Cactaceae).

Contorted tree, saxicolous vegetation (growing among rocks) on Pre-Cambrian rock outcrop in Brazilian Highlands, Goias State, Brazil

Contorted tree, saxicolous vegetation (growing among rocks) on Pre-Cambrian rock outcrop in Brazilian Highlands, Goias State, Brazil

Cerrado (brazilian savanna) biome: contorted tree, shrub and grass in campos rupestres (saxicolous vegetation, vegetation on rocks) ecosystem on rock outcrop: Goias, Brazilian Highlands (Brazilian shield, Planalto brasileiro), Brazil

Cerrado (brazilian savanna) biome: contorted tree, shrub and grass in campos rupestres (saxicolous vegetation, vegetation on rocks) ecosystem on rock outcrop: Goias, Brazilian Highlands (Brazilian shield, Planalto brasileiro), Brazil

Purchase photographs

Links

The Cerrados of Brazil                    (book – download) by Paulo S. Oliveira, Robert J. Marquis   – Columbia University Press 2002
Little information is available in English on the savannas of South America. This book, with chapters written by various scientists, starts filling this gap with an ecological perspective, from the soils to the plant and animal communities to the action of fire, the human occupation and conservation.

Contribution to the discussions on the origin of the cerrado biome: Brazilian savanna
  Braz. J. Biol. vol.70 no.1 São Carlos Feb. 2010
From the abstract: “Fire, as well as acid and dystrophic soils, would be factors involved in the selection of savanna species throughout climatic events, during the Tertiary and the Quaternary, e.g. Pliocene and Pleistocene.” A .pdf of the full article can be downloaded from this link.

Com Cerrado extinto água no Brasil secará
by Professor Altair Sales Barbosa of PUC de Goiás  –  Revista Ecológica  06/10/2014
Discussion of the irreversible damages on biodiversity, on water supply, on people by the irresponsible de-forestation of the cerrado by agribusiness. In Portuguese, but Google Translator gives a pretty accurate English version.

Bibliography

(more books have certainly been published – I may add them at a later date, as I become aware of them)

Neotropical Savannas and Seasonnally Dry Forests     Plant Diversity, Biogeography, and Conservation – Edited by R. Toby Pennington, Gwilym P. Lewis, James A. Ratter –  CRC Press, Taylor & Francis, 2006.
Not for the faint-hearted… 20 chapters, written by 59 specialists. Biodiversity, phytogeography, biogeographical history, population genetics, floristic relationships, conservation, parallels with African savannas, etc…

CERRADO ecologia e caracterização
Editores técnicos: Ludmilla Moura de Souza Aguiar, Amabilio José Aires de Camargo – Embrapa Informação Tecnlógica, 2004.
Chapters by various authors over conclusions of research at the EMBRAPA (Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisas Agropecuárias). Covers a wide range of topics with emphasis on biodiversity, economic aspects. human impact and environment preservation. A useful complement in Portuguese to “The Cerrados of Brazil ” described above in the Links section.

The Ecology of Neotropical Savannas, by Guillermo Sarmiento, translated by Otto Solbrig – Harvard University Press 1984.
An early study of South American savannas, based primarily on research in Venezuela. Emphasis on seasonality, nutrient-poor soils.

 

Photo identification books

100 Árvores do Cerrado
by Manoel Claudio da Silva Junior
Field guide to 100 trees of the Brazilian savannas, each species being illustrated by photographs of the flowers, leaves, bark etc to help identification.

+100 Árvores do Cerrado – Matas de Galeria
*by Manoel Claudio da Silva Junior, Benedito Alisio da Silva Pereira
Continuation of the previous field guide, concentrating on forest galleries species.

CERRADO, espécies vegetais úteis
by Semíramis Pedrosa de Almeida, Carolyn Elinore B. Proença, Sueli
Matiko Sano, José Felípe Ribeiro
Many plants of the savannas of the Brazilian Highlands are used by the
local population, as food, medicines, or manufacturing materials. The
popular knowledge of plants is extensive. This book gives a glimpse of
that knowledge, with more than 400 pages of botanical descriptions and
uses, including ecological aspects, chemical analysis etc, with one
photograph for each species.

Flores e Frutos do Cerrado                                                                                                     
Flowers and Fruits of the Cerrado
by Carolyn C. Proença, Rafael S. Oliveira, Ana Palmira Silva
A nice book to identify flowers. Short introduction both in Portuguese and in English; also a Portuguese-English glossary. Numerous photographs. A nice touch is that the flowers are grouped by color, which makes the use easy,

Flores da Serra da Calçada
by Leda Afonso Martens
Another abundantly illustrated book with photographs of  the flora of a
cerrado region of the State of Minas Gerais. It covers not only flowering
plants (angiosperms), but also some ferns and lichens, and scenics of
the region, including anthropic degradation. A wonderful book. 

Aerial of rainforest being burned to clear land for cattle ranching, Brazil, Para, Amazon region.

THE MURDER OF THE RAINFOREST

In South America, in Africa, in Asia the rainforest is destroyed in the name of development. A rich biodiversity is lost and local people are expelled from their traditional lands.

Biodiversity in Brazil…

Aerial view of Jari River, northern tributary of the Amazon, coming down from Guyana Highlands showing rapids and lush rainforest.

Aerial view of Jari River, northern tributary of the Amazon, coming down from Guyana Highlands showing rapids and lush rainforest.

… in Ivory Coast and in Peru

Tropical Rain Forest in Amazon Region, Dept. Loreto, Peru, South America; palm is Attalea sp.

Tropical Rain Forest in Amazon Region, Dept. Loreto, Peru, South America; palm is Attalea sp. CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE.

West Africa, rainforest in southwest Ivory Coast, along Hana River (a tributary of the Cavally River). Blooming climbing palm is Laccosperma secundiflorum (Arecaceae).

West Africa, rainforest in southwest Ivory Coast, along Hana River (a tributary of the Cavally River). Blooming climbing palm is Laccosperma secundiflorum (Arecaceae). CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE.

But the greed brought by globalization, the market forces, agribusiness (cattle ranching, soybean, sugarcane, cotton…, logging, mining, hydroelectric power dams sees more value in the destruction of the forest.

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest:

Slash-and-burn agriculture: forest being burned for cultivation in Amazon region, Acre, Brazil

Slash-and-burn agriculture: forest being burned for cultivation in Amazon region, Acre, Brazil CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE.

Aerial of rainforest being burned to clear land for cattle ranching, Brazil, Para, Amazon region.

Aerial of rainforest being burned to clear land for cattle ranching, Brazil, Para, Amazon region. CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE.

  What’s left…

Aerial of smoldering remains of Amazon rainforest burned for clearing for cattle ranching, Para, Brazil

Aerial of smoldering remains of Amazon rainforest burned for clearing for cattle ranching, Para, Brazil

Logs are floated in rafts or transported on boats on the Amazon.

Brazil, Amazon region, Para State. Deforestation: raft of logs on lower Amazon river.

Brazil, Amazon region, Para State. Deforestation: raft of logs on lower Amazon river.

Deforestation: barge loaded with logs in Amazon estuary, Marajo Island, Para, Brazil

Deforestation: barge loaded with logs in Amazon estuary, Marajo Island, Para, Brazil

Boards drying in the sun at sawmill.

Boards drying in the sun at sawmill in Amazon rainforest at Marajo Island in Amazon estuary, Para, Brazil.

Boards drying in the sun at sawmill in Amazon rainforest at Marajo Island in Amazon estuary, Para, Brazil.

Some wood is cut in local sawmills for export.

Boards packed for export at sawmill at Marajo Island in Amazon estuary, Brazil

Boards packed for export at sawmill at Marajo Island in Amazon estuary, Brazil

Tucurui dam on Tocantins River in Amazon rainforest.

Brazil, Para State. Tucurui dam on Tocantins River in Amazon region.

Brazil, Para State. Tucurui dam on Tocantins River in Amazon region. CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE.

The Brazilian government started building dams on several important rivers, displacing populations and disturbing the migration and reproduction of fish.

Carajás iron mine in Amazon rainforest.

Brazil. Para State, Carajas iron mine in Amazon rainforest.

Brazil. Para State, Carajas iron mine in Amazon rainforest. CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE.

A railroad was built to carry iron ore from the Carajas mine in the Amazon to a port on the Atlantic coast, opening the way for cattle ranchers, illegal loggers etc, allowing them to invade land of the Awá indigenous people, previously uncontacted.

Road through deforested area, with mosaic of pasture, agricultural land and remnant islands of rainforest.

Deforestation: aerial of road going through former rainforest cleared for agriculture and cattle raising, Amazon rainforest, Para State, Brazil

Deforestation: aerial of road going through former rainforest cleared for agriculture and cattle raising, Amazon rainforest, Para State, Brazil

Only tree stumps are left on the pasture.

Cattle grazing in pasture formed by cleared rainforest land with tree stumps left, Amazon region, Pará, Brazil.

Cattle grazing in pasture formed by cleared rainforest land with tree stumps left, Amazon region, Pará, Brazil.

Unloading truck at sawmill at Pucallpa, Peru..

Logs being unloaded from truck at sawmill in Pucallpa on Ucayali River, Peru.

Logs being unloaded from truck at sawmill in Pucallpa on Ucayali River, Peru.

Sawmill at Pucallpa, Peru.

Worker carrying cut wood at sawmill in Pucallpa on Ucayali River, Peru

Worker carrying cut wood at sawmill in Pucallpa on Ucayali River, Peru

Deforestation in Africa: Logging trucks in Ivory Coast…

Deforestation: trucks loaded with logs in western Ivory Coast, Africa.

Deforestation: trucks loaded with logs in western Ivory Coast, Africa.

…and logs at harbor in Gabon.

Deforestation: Timber at harbor at Owendo, Libreville harbor, Gabon, Africa

Deforestation: Timber at harbor at Owendo, Libreville harbor, Gabon, Africa

Back in Brazil: People place their hopes in the supernatural, not aware that the threat of the market economy may change their lives forever, for better or for worse.

Procession by canoe of Nossa Senhora da Conceicao on small river (rio Caraparu) in tropical rainforest in Para State, Brazil

Procession by canoe of Nossa Senhora da Conceicao on small river (rio Caraparu) in tropical rainforest in Para State, Brazil

Will the peace of the Caraparu River remain?

Small river in rainforest, Amazon region, Para State, Brazil

Small river in rainforest, Amazon region, Para State, Brazil

INDEPENDANCE OF THE CONGO, JUNE 30, 1960.

Festivities for independence of ex-Belgian Congo, now Democratic Republic of the Congo, at Ikela (Equateur Province). The musicians are Mangbetu from Northeast Congo, the men with spears and plaited shields are local Kela of the Mongo liguistic group.

Festivities to celebrate the independence of the Congo, June 30, 1960 at Ikela in Central Congo. The Belgian Congo became the Republic of the Congo, later Zaire, and now Democratic Republic of the Congo. Festiivités pour célébrer l´indépendance du Congo le 30 juin 1960 à Ikela au Congo Central. Le Congo Belge devint la République du Congo, ensuite Zaire, et maintenant République Démocratique du Congo.

Festivities to celebrate the independence of the Congo, June 30, 1960 at Ikela in Central Congo. The Belgian Congo became the Republic of the Congo, later Zaire, and now Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Festiivités pour célébrer l´indépendance du Congo le 30 juin 1960 à Ikela au Congo Central. Le Congo Belge devint la République du Congo, ensuite Zaire, et maintenant République Démocratique du Congo.

Festivities to celebrate the independence of the Congo, June 30, 1960 at Ikela in Central Congo. The Belgian Congo became the Republic of the Congo, later Zaire, and now Democratic Republic of the Congo. Men playing slit drum (idiophone drum). Festiivités pour célébrer l´indépendance du Congo le 30 juin 1960 à Ikela au Congo Central. Le Congo Belge devint la République du Congo, ensuite Zaire, et maintenant République Démocratique du Congo. Hommes jouant du tambour à fente (idiophone).

Festivities to celebrate the independence of the Congo, June 30, 1960 at Ikela in Central Congo. The Belgian Congo became the Republic of the Congo, later Zaire, and now Democratic Republic of the Congo. Men playing slit drum (idiophone drum).
Festiivités pour célébrer l´indépendance du Congo le 30 juin 1960 à Ikela au Congo Central. Le Congo Belge devint la République du Congo, ensuite Zaire, et maintenant République Démocratique du Congo. Hommes jouant du tambour à fente (idiophone).

Festivities to celebrate the independence of the Congo, June 30, 1960 at Ikela in Central Congo. The Belgian Congo became the Republic of the Congo, later Zaire, and now Democratic Republic of the Congo. Men dancing, with spear and plaited shield. Festiivités pour célébrer l´indépendance du Congo le 30 juin 1960 à Ikela au Congo Central. Le Congo Belge devint la République du Congo, ensuite Zaire, et maintenant République Démocratique du Congo. Homme dansant, avec lance et bouclier tressé.

Festivities to celebrate the independence of the Congo, June 30, 1960 at Ikela in Central Congo. The Belgian Congo became the Republic of the Congo, later Zaire, and now Democratic Republic of the Congo. Men dancing, with spear and plaited shield.
Festiivités pour célébrer l´indépendance du Congo le 30 juin 1960 à Ikela au Congo Central. Le Congo Belge devint la République du Congo, ensuite Zaire, et maintenant République Démocratique du Congo. Homme dansant, avec lance et bouclier tressé.

Festivities to celebrate the independence of the Congo, June 30, 1960 at Ikela in Central Congo. The Belgian Congo became the Republic of the Congo, later Zaire, and now Democratic Republic of the Congo: men blowing horns. Festiivités pour célébrer l´indépendance du Congo le 30 juin 1960 à Ikela au Congo Central. Le Congo Belge devint la République du Congo, ensuite Zaire, et maintenant République Démocratique du Congo: hommes jouant des trompes.

Festivities to celebrate the independence of the Congo, June 30, 1960 at Ikela in Central Congo. The Belgian Congo became the Republic of the Congo, later Zaire, and now Democratic Republic of the Congo: men blowing horns.
Festiivités pour célébrer l´indépendance du Congo le 30 juin 1960 à Ikela au Congo Central. Le Congo Belge devint la République du Congo, ensuite Zaire, et maintenant République Démocratique du Congo: hommes jouant des trompes.

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PEOPLE OF THE WATER: THE LIBINZA OF THE ISLANDS OF THE NGIRI RIVER, DEMOCRATIC REPUPLIC OF THE CONGO – Part 2: THE WATER..

(part 1: THE ISLAND VILLAGES) Although the Libinza live in villages, water is ever present. Transportation is by canoe, subsistence is mostly fishing. Since the earlier age children now that water is their environment.

Boys of Libinza tribe playing in canoes. The Libinza live on the islands of the Ngiri River, tributary of the Ubangi River, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Africa.

Boys of Libinza tribe playing in canoes. The Libinza live on the islands of the Ngiri River, tributary of the Ubangi River, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Africa.

The grasslands.

Children of Libinza tribe going to school by canoe, Ngiri river region, Democratic Republic of the Congo (ex-Zaire), Africa.

Children of Libinza tribe going to school by canoe.

A vast area of swamp savanna, artificially managed by fire during the dry season, separates the islands from the swamp forest.
Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ngiri River area, Libinza tribe. Women in canoe in swamp savanna, going to swamp forest to fish and collect drinking water.

Women in canoe in swamp savanna, going to swamp forest to fish and collect drinking water.

Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ngiri River area, Libinza tribe. Woman with children in canoe in swamp savanna, going to swamp forest to fish and collect drinking water.

Woman with children in canoe in swamp savanna, going to swamp forest to fish and collect drinking water.

From the swamp grasslands to the swamp forest.

Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ngiri River islands area, Libinza tribe, girl with baby learning to paddle in canoe in swamp forest.

Girl with baby learning to paddle in canoe in swamp forest.

Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ngiri River islands area, Libinza tribe, girl with baby learning how to paddle in canoe in swamp forest.

Girl with baby learning how to paddle in canoe in swamp forest.

Children in traditional non-literate societies learn by partaking in adult activities. Now children go to school (2nd picture from top) but the traditional ways persist.

Women fishing

Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ngiri River area, Libinza tribe. Woman carrying baby in canoe, removing fish caught in net in swamp forest.

Woman carrying baby in canoe, removing fish caught in net in swamp forest.

Both nylon nets (above) and traditional fish traps are used for fishing.

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Woman setting up Esoko fish traps in swamp forest.

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Woman setting up an Esoko fish trap in swamp forest..

Esoko fish trap (Piège esoko). 9b_fish trap_Document FAO_T0537E85_COPYRIGHTIllustration from: Welcomme, R.L., River fisheries. FAO Fish.  1985 Tech.Pap., (262): 330 p.  CHAPTER 7   THE FISHERY (Scroll down to Fishing Gear)

Pierre Van Leynseele: “Le moleke … est une nasse faite de lames de bambou (mbenge) reliées par de la corde de raphia. Le moleke, dont la taille varie, a la forme d’un cône aplati au sommet… Le piège esoko est très répandu dans toute la zone du confluent. Il est fabriqué de Ia même manière que la nasse moleke, mais il est conique, démuni de chicanes et ne mesure qu’une cinquantaine de centimètres. L’ouverture se ferme au moyen d’un clapet de même fabrication, commandé par une corde de raphia. Celle-ci est fixée à une tige souple tendue comme un arc et qui prolonge 1a pointe de la nasse. A l’intérieur de celle-ci se trouve l’appât, un fruit de pa1me, qui est fixé à un dispositif fort précis qui déclenche la fermeture du clapet. L’esoko est utilisé encore maintenant et en très grand nombre, par les hommes et les femmes, à proximité ou dans ta forêt inondée. Les Libinza 1’utilisent beaucoup moins que les gens de la Haute Ngiri comme les Bamwe, Djando ou que les gens de la forêt comme les Balobo.” The Libinza have devised a clay pot hearth, which allows cooking in the canoes while in the swamp forest. These hearth pots are also used in the villages.

Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ngiri River area, Libinza tribe.

Clay pot hearth, allowing cooking in canoe. Click on image to enlarge.

Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ngiri River area, Libinza tribe.

The same clay pot hearth is sometimes also used in the island villages. Click on image to enlarge.

Men collecting and drinking palm wine

Africa, Libinza tribe, Ngiri River islands, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Man propelling canoe with pole in palm swamp forest.

Man propelling canoe with pole in raphia palm swamp forest, on his way to collect palm sap

Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ngiri River islands, Libinza tribe. Man climbing raphia palm tree to collect sap to make palm wine.

Man climbing raphia palm tree to collect sap to make palm wine.

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Men drinking palm wine; a man is drinking from a horn.

A rainy day…

Africa, Libinza tribe, Ngiri River islands, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Paddling on Ngiri River under rain.

End of trip.

I had arrived in the Congo at Kinshasa, and from somewhere upriver (I started taking notes only after arriving in the Libinza region, and I don’t remember the beginning and some of the end of the trip) I went to a Libinza village, Liketa, in Pierre Van Leynseele’s motor boat. He then followed to the groups he studied, leaving me at Liketa. At the end of my stay with the Libinza, I went on a 3-day canoe trip to a town downriver, Bomongo. For some reason I had decided not to travel back through Kinshasa, but instead to go to Bangui in the Central African Republic, from where I would get a flight to Paris and a connection to Brussels. To get to Bangui I had to go first to Impfondo in the Republic of the Congo (Congo-Brazzaville), then under a communist regime, to wait for a boat going up the Ubangi river. Upon arriving in Impfondo I was quickly led to the mission, where the father told me to stay until the boat arrived so as not to be seen, because Europeans were not welcome by the civilian governor (although he told me that there would be no problem with the military commander). So I had a few days of anxiety… I did not look forward to a second experience of the hospitality in an African jail .

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Bibliography (2)

Pierre van Leynseele: Les Libinza de la Ngiri: l’anthropologie d’un peuple des marais du confluent Congo-Ubangi: now found only in university libraries, will be published by Éditions L’Harmattan.

The future…

The WWF has plans to establish a reserve    in the lower Ngiri region, which would not take into consideration the highly effective management of the environment by the Libinza (this would be downstream from the region that I photographed and that Pierre Van Leynseele studied); local populations are worried: Equateur – La nouvelle réserve naturelle inquiète les riverains L’ICCN (Institut congolais pour la conservation de la nature) declares: “Il ne s’agira pas de chasser les habitants de leur milieu de vie. Une fois le niveau de conservation amélioré, les gens trouveront du poisson et mangeront du gibier, affirme le responsable provincial. Bien plus, leur condition de vie sera améliorée, des emplois seront créés lorsque les touristes vont commencer à affluer.” So an auto-sufficient traditional culture, with an efficient environment and conservation management that has maintained the habitat for centuries, would be replaced by a culture subservient to the needs of wealthy tourists…