For the full story on the Bili apes, I recommend that you go to the website www.wasmoethwildlife.org
Unfortunately, I have some very bad news to share with you. In June of this year, our study area was invaded by over a thousand gold miners. It seems that the local chiefs have made a very short-sighted choice, and abandoned their collaboration with the conservation and research projects in favor of greedy exploitation. Unless something can be done very quickly, it is only a matter of time before the miners, and the poachers in their midst, make their way out to the untouched Gangu wilderness with their guns and snares. The elephants would be the first to go, and the Bili apes would soon after suffer for their innocence of humans. We are doing everything we can to stop this developing tragedy, but it may be too late. I am returning to DRC in 3 weeks to survey an area called Aketi 200 km SW of Bili, and hopefully I will be able to enlist the ICCN (Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature) to help us reclaim Bili for conservation. But war is raging in the east, and I have just read that the Chinese government has loaned DRC $5 billion dollars to benefit the mining industry. There are very powerful forces arrayed against the protection of the Bili habitat. The loss of Bili would be a senseless tragedy --- we are talking about thousands of square km of pristine habitat for elephants, ground-nesting chimpanzees, forest-visiting lions and hyenas, giant pangolins, etc. Also to suffer will be the Azande people, who have about the lightest ecological footprint of any human group with which I have ever worked, and stand to lose their traditional society with all of its wisdom.
Please feel free to post this letter, and also a link I have made to a letter I posted on this subject at http://richarddawkins.net/article,1650,The-Bili-Apes-Are-in-Trouble,Cleve-Hicks-of-the-Bili-Ape-Project.
And thank you so much for your interest in our work!
All the best,