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KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo, November 21, 2005 --/WORLD-WIRE/--
A barge that is integral part of the African Wildlife Foundation's (AWF) wildlife conservation and development program in the Maringa Lopori Wamba Landscape was confiscated on November 12, by the Congolese military. The barge carrying agricultural products and humanitarian supplies to provide economic benefits for the people of the region, was confiscated for the purpose of transporting soldiers from Basankusu to Mbandaka.

This barge was one part of a cargo trip launched by AWF in mid September. The Ferbo I, a private boat, had been traveling up and down the Congo and Maringa Rivers to collect agricultural products from local farmers who had not seen a boat go up those rivers in over 7 years.

The crew, including an AWF employee, was asked to vacate the barge. The agricultural products collected from people throughout the region were taken off the boat and put into storage in Basankusu.

AWF is operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo under formal agreement with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in close collaboration with key Ministries including the Ministries of Rural Development, of Plan, and the Environment.

This confiscation came as a total surprise to AWF staff and representatives on the ground and will have an impact on AWF's development conservation objectives in the region.

AWF has petitioned the Ministry of Defense to return the boat as soon as possible and has asked them to refrain from future requisition of AWF property without prior discussion.

Founded in 1961, the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) is the leading conservation organization focused solely on the African continent. AWF's programs and conservation strategies are based on sound science and designed to protect both the wild lands and wildlife of Africa and ensure a more sustainable future for Africa's people. Since its inception AWF has protected endangered species and land, promoted partnerships with the private sector for ecotourism to benefit local African communities as a means to improve livelihoods, and trained hundreds of African nationals in conservation - all to ensure the survival of Africa's unparalleled wildlife heritage.

AWF is a non-profit organization with offices in Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia and is a registered 501(c)(3) in the United States.


Elodie Sampéré

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