This is Paulin Ngobobo. I often refer to charcoal burning as one of the main illegal activities in Virunga National Park and one of the challenges we face. This may not be clear to all of you. I know everyone is familiar with illegal logging, but charcoal burning is different. In short, people cut down trees to burn them, in situ, to make charcoal. This charcoal is then sold in Goma or elsewhere.
We often come across charcoal burning. And these pictures show you how it works.
First the charcoal burners chop down a tree. Often, with a tree of this size, they do not use the whole trunk but the large side branches. But they chop the whole tree down anyway.
Then they stack up the branches into a dome shape. Here you can see my men dismantling one of these domes.
Then the charcoal burners put a layer of mud over the wood, to isolate the wood from the atmosphere. This makes the wood burn stronger and form charcoal. They leave it for a day or two to burn.
Here you can see what I mean. This was a charcoal burning scene we came across and you can see my Rangers destroying the fire by removing the layer of mud.
Once the wood has become charcoal the people put it into sacks.
So as you can see it causes real destruction, and is one of the principal challenges for me and my Rangers.