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Craig Stanford Discusses the "Jungle Massacre" and Protecting Wildlife in Africa.

Craig Stanford studies chimpanzees and gorillas in Uganda. In early March, Hutu rebels kidnapped 14 westerners including his field assistant. 8 of the hostages were killed. Stanford had left the region before the attack. Stanford talks about the political situation and its impact on the wildlife there. He is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Southern California. He is the author of "The Hunting Apes," and "Chimpanzee and Red Colobus."


Other segments from the episode on June 29, 1999

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, June 29, 1999: Interview with William Karesh; Interview with Craig Stanford; Review of Ron Sexsmith's "Whereabouts."


Date: JUNE 29, 1999
Time: 12:00
Tran: 062901np.217
Head: Wildlife Veterinarian
Sect: News; International
Time: 12:06

TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

Dr. William Karesh is a veterinarian whose patients live in the wild. He travels to the most remote parts of the world to diagnose and treat wild rhinos, buffalo, elephants, penguins -- you get the point. He says, although the job sounds romantic it's not one that most people would enjoy. It's arduous, uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous.

Dr. Karesh heads the International Field Veterinary Program for the Wildlife Conservation Society, which provides veterinary services all over the world for wildlife conservation projects. He's written a memoir called "Appointment at the Ends of the World."

When he's working with large wild animals he has to sedate them first. It's not easy to sedate an elephant or a hippopotamus.

DR. WILLIAM KARESH, WILDLIE VETERINARIAN; AUTHOR, "APPOINTMENT AT THE ENDS OF THE WORLD: MEMOIRS OF A WILDLIFE VETERINARIAN": Probably the biggest challenge is getting close enough to dart them and have it safe for the team. Darts -- there's a pretty widespread misconception with drug darts, and people -- because the dart gun looks like a rifle you just assume that it fires like a rifle.

In fact, they're only good for maybe 30 or 40 yards at the most, as opposed to a high-powered rifle that can shoot 200 yards without a problem. So, to dart animal effectively, and you want to make sure the dart ends up in a nice solid muscle mass, you just can't hit them anywhere, you have to get pretty close. And getting close to elephants or rhinos or hippos or any large animal can be fairly dangerous because they don't like people being so close to them.

GROSS: You were once given this advice, "if an elephant charges, don't run. Wait until the elephant is nearly upon you and then dodge to the side." Did you ever have an opportunity to use that advice?

KARESH: No, and I'm not sure it's even very good advice. But I always keep in the back of my head there as a backup plan, generally -- forest elephants that was really referring to in the deep. When you're deep in the forest or the jungle it's -- you can only see maybe 10 or 20 feet ahead of you, sometimes if you're lucky, 30 feet.

So, when you find an elephant, they're extremely close. And elephants of course have adapted in the wild to respond to that also. And they know that any threats they have, which would usually be from a human, are going to be very close.

So forest elephants do tend to charge you if you're suddenly upon them, or you surprise them. If they hear you coming from a distance, and they have very good sense hearing, or if they smell you -- if the wind is behind you and they can smell you, they'll usually run away and not let you get close in the first place.

But when you surprise them they often will charge. And local people say, you know, don't run just hide, which I've certainly done in the past. I've been, you know, hiding behind a tree with the elephant bashing on the other side of the tree trying to, I think, flush me out so I would run.

But then also I worked with some of the locals like the Byaca (ph) Pygmies or the Imbuti (ph) Pygmies, and they run like crazy when an elephant shows up, and they're very fast in the forest. So they get away -- they manage to get away. I don't know if -- I think I'm too clumsy to run that fast.

So, you're always wondering what it is to do.

GROSS: So how long did you have to hide behind this tree?

KARESH: Oh, it seemed like hours, but I think it was just a minute or two. And then the elephant finally got bored or frustrated and ran off into the forest.

GROSS: There's a picture of you in your new book of you covering the eyes of a rhino after you've sedated the rhino with a dart. You're covering the rhinos eyes with a large cloth. How is covering the rhinos eyes helping to calm the animal until the sedation takes effect?

KARESH: Well, a lot of the drugs we use only act on certain parts of the brain. And in the case of rhinos, and the medication we use to sedate them, they certainly -- they're in a very dream-like state and they're unable to move physically. But they don't close their eyes.

So covering their eyes, and we also put little earplugs in their ears made with socks stuffed with other socks, it just reduces some of the stimulation from outside. So, it's almost a dream-like state for them and you don't want to surprise them or shock them and it would be almost like arousing somebody in their sleep. Even though the drug makes it physically impossible, mentally we want to make sure they stay relaxed so it's not so traumatic for them.

Also, out in the blazing sun, we're working right on the equator, and if they're not blinking or their eyes aren't closed we have to be worried about, you know, sun damage to the eyes. So, that eye cover protects them not only from too much visual stimulation, but also just from the sun so they don't end up with, you know, we don't want to cause a problem and since we're really there trying to help these animals.

GROSS: What kind of work were you doing with those rhinos?

KARESH: With the rhinos, this was in northeastern Congo Zaire in a park called Garamba (ph) National Park, and we have a great team of people -- biologists and veterinarians actually. And we work together. They're only about 25 of these -- this type of rhino left -- the northern white rhino. They're only 25 or so left in the world and they're all in this park.

So, what we're doing there is we're fitting those animals with radio collars and later on we developed a horn transmitter where we could actually drill a hole in the horn of the rhino and insert a radio transmitter that operates on FM, just like this radio broadcast operates.

And we could track those rhinos afterwards, and the park guards could actually follow the rhinos around and make sure they were protected from poachers.

GROSS: And how has that program been working?

KARESH: Well, it was great until the last two rebellions through the Congo -- Congo Zaire. So, it's very hard for the conservation workers to get in there and work. But sometimes they sneak in across the border and check up on things.

And the park guards are still there, and it still looks pretty good
for the rhinos. They've gotten pretty good protection, but we're always on the edge. It's right across the border from Sudan and there's constant political unrest. So we never sleep well at night. There's no guarantee about what will happen in the future.

GROSS: I guess that's just one example of how political problems can interfere with your work with wildlife.

KARESH: Absolutely. I mean, we have to consider that whatever we're doing with wildlife conservation has to fit into the real world. And the real world involves a lot of human beings, and of course that means politics.

So, people's agendas are different and sometimes in order for a politician or an individual to take control of their region or their country they might have to put wildlife a little lower on their personal agenda. And so, we try to stay, you know, apolitical so we can work with both sides.

And certainly in that instance in Congo Zaire we worked very closely with whoever happens to be controlling the region, because it's somewhat irrelevant for the animals about who the actual political authority is. So we're kind of happy to work with whoever decides that they are in charge.

And a lot of them understand that for the long-term they want their wildlife resources available. So, there's not an instant change of heart. I think whoever -- a good example is in Rwanda with the mountain gorillas. As governments change they still recognize the value of the mountain gorilla. So they were kind of spared most of the fighting and the impact of the wars.

GROSS: Have you, or any of the conservationists you work with, ever been attacked by militia members or, you know, other people involved in political warfare?

KARESH: Well, I can't think of an example where anybody has been under direct fire. There were certainly stories I hear about the episode in Uganda in the spring with the gorilla tourism is a horrible, horrible story. More often, we just get held up by militia or rebels.

It doesn't have very often, but then again it's not uncommon to be stopped by military with rifles and they want to go through your baggage and ask a lot of questions. And you try and explain what is you're doing, and I've certainly been lucky always to be released unharmed.

I've had some colleagues and friends that have been kidnapped in the forest by actually secessionists and people in the Congo Zaire forest that have not really had contact with the outside world for 25 years. And some of our teams going in to do survey work, you know, happened upon them and there was a kingdom that none of us knew existed and they were taken hostage by the king of the kingdom.

But they sent another person out for the ransom, and we ended up appointing the king as a wildlife adviser in the region, and he was very delighted by that and let our people go.

GROSS: Tell me something more about the king.

KARESH: It was a group -- I think they -- during the '60s when right after Zaire became independent and there was all the fighting and ultimately -- that time it was President Mbutu (ph) -- took control of the country. Some of these groups that had fled from villages to get away from the fighting had fled into the jungle about, you know, 20 to 30 miles from the nearest road.

And just set up their own little world and never came back out -- out to the road. So they were out in isolation essentially for 25, 28 years.

GROSS: My guest is wildlife veterinarian Dr. William Karesh. He's written a memoir called "Appointment at the End of the World." We'll talk after a break.

This is FRESH AIR.


GROSS: If you're just joining us, my guest is Dr. William Karesh. He's the head of the Field Veterinary Program for the Wildlife Conservation Society, which is located at the Bronx Zoo. He has written a new memoir called "Appointment at the Ends of the world: Memoirs of a Wildlife Veterinarian."

When you're trying to assess the health of a colony of penguins, for instance, how do you do it? I mean, do you bring a stethoscope, take blood samples, stool samples?

KARESH: We do all of that. The most important part before that is to link with the local government or the local conservation group to make sure that this is something they want done. And we're almost always invited in by foreign governments or foreign conservation organizations to assist them.

And then it's just the logistical challenges of getting the proper equipment there set up. We can work in the field with a solar panel and a 12-volt battery and have a microscope and a centrifuge.

And then you actually go into the colony; with penguins it's fairly easy to sneak up on a penguin and catch them by hand. And then you give them a physical exam just like you would get a good complete physical if you went to your own personal doctor.

And we take a blood sample and a stool or a fecal sample. In the blood samples we use -- we evaluate them in the field initially, but then we also freeze them in liquid nitrogen and bring them back for laboratory testing. And we'll look at a whole series of infectious diseases. We'll run a toxicology panel to see if they've been exposed to heavy metals or pesticides or PCBs.

And then all of that data, those results, are combined then to give a profile for a given population.

GROSS: What's the worst diagnoses you've had to give about an animal population that you've analyzed?

KARESH: Well, we find a lot of important infectious diseases. Sometimes there are occasional diophs (ph), we've seen diophs with swans and Patagonia from botulism. And it's not like the large diophs you see in California -- in the lakes of California with waterfowl and botulism.

There's also been anthrax outbreaks, which is a very deadly bacterial disease in wildlife in Africa; hippos, occasionally rhinos, buffalo -- there's been tuberculosis. There's tuberculosis endemic in some of the parks in southern Africa, and we found tuberculosis and hepatitis in orangutans in Indonesia.

So there's some potentially serious diseases, and then there's some other kind of low-grade chronic diseases. One called, leptosperosis (ph), which can infect humans but we find it in antelope in Africa. And it can cause still births or abortions in the antelopes; sometimes high fever and even death on rare occasions.

But it's contagious to humans, so we can we're concerned about the local people who hunt and eat these antelopes are also susceptible to getting these same diseases.

GROSS: Well, let's get back to the tuberculosis and hepatitis that you found in the orangutan population. Once you diagnose that the problem existed, did you do anything to treat it?

KARESH: Well, the problem with treating tuberculosis in orangutans is that much like humans you can treat the disease and get it to sometimes go away. But more likely it remains in the animal or the human's body at a very low level, or it may be sequestered off in a little nodule.

Now, for humans you would just say, well, that's fine and every year you come back for a checkup. And we'll make sure the disease hasn't regressed (ph) or come back. The problem with orangutans is we can't ask them to come in for a checkup every year.

So, those animals -- I certainly feel that those animals that are diagnosed with tuberculosis, for example, they should be treated but they can't be really put back into wild populations because if the disease does come back into them then they put other -- these wild animals at risk.

So, we need to kind of have long-term care facilities or rest homes, whether it's a patch of forest somewhere where they can live but not be -- not put the wild populations at risk.

Hepatitis, we don't know of a good treatment for in orangutans yet. There still needs to be some work on that.

GROSS: What solution did you come up with for isolating the infected orangutans?

KARESH: Well, the ones that are infected happen to be former pets. And this is not a natural disease. We went and looked at wild populations of orangutans, working with the Malaysian government they're really great to work with, and found that none of these diseases existed in the wild populations.

And that's why we feel so strongly about not releasing these infected animals. Now, these infected animals were former pets. There's a large pet trade in orangutans. The babies are very cute. People like to have them for pets. And they keep them in their homes. And that's how they develop diseases like tuberculosis and hepatitis from being exposed to humans.

Now, those animals, because they are pets, they are comfortable being around people. So, it's much easier to keep them in any kind of facility, whether it's a large island facility where they can range free or maybe like I said before, a large patch of forest that's isolated from the wild populations.

And I think those are good places to put those animals, and they are also great places where the general public can come and learn about the orangutans. They can be nature centers or wildlife centers that serve an educational purpose.

Since the animals are not very scared of people they are easy to approach. You can see them climbing in the trees. And it's a great opportunity for them. And it's a nice life for the annals animals to be free in the trees without risking these wild populations from the introduction of a disease that they have no resistance to.

GROSS: You know, as a wildlife veterinarian you travel around the world and, you know, you interact with animals large and small of all types. I wonder if your impressions of these animals, and your reactions to them, is often different from the impressions and the folklore of the people who actually live in the same area as the animals.

KARESH: Absolutely. For one thing, I do -- I travel with my biases. And as a veterinarian, as a wildlife veterinarian, I'm already going in wanting to help the animals. I have a natural awe for these animals. I have a great respect for them. I feel like the animals, you know, deserve to exist.

And that's certainly partly from being a veterinarian, and then there's the whole North American or Western culture. We all come with that bias too. But it's wrong to -- certainly wrong to assume that people in other cultures and other countries feel the same way. And it's not a rude awakening, but I think it's an important awakening.

And I am reminded of it constantly that local people have developed their thoughts about animals in a very different way than we might have here. We're so lucky to have all the resources we have in our culture. And people in poor areas are more exposed to animals, they have more reasons to be afraid of animals. They don't always have the same educational background that we have. So they -- instead of that, they have to develop cultural histories or stories to explain why animals do some of the things they do.

An interesting example has been with elephants -- forest elephants. That a lot of local people I work with believe that many of the elephants are really humans transformed into elephants. And that villagers at night will transform themselves into elephants. So that when you come across an elephant it may not just be an elephant, it may actually be a person.

And that puts that elephant -- working with elements in a very different light when you consider that they may actually be people instead of elephants. Even high-ranking government officials in some countries believe this is true. This is the way they were raised. And who are we really to say it's not true?

GROSS: Does this end up never affecting how you interact with animals?

KARESH: It does, because I think we have to respect some of the local feelings about animals. And we try to come to some -- some level of agreement. Some place where we can both achieve our goals when we're working with local populations in these situations.

On the other hand, most -- most cultural groups, most indigenous groups, are also very dependent on wildlife as a resource. And that helps us a lot, because they understand that we would like to help them ensure a future for wildlife. And that make sense to them because for their children and their children's children they also want to make sure there is wildlife available for generations.

GROSS: Where are you off to next?

KARESH: By the end of June I have to be in Mongolia, it's calving season for gazelles. And we're trying to help develop a management plan in the steps -- the eastern steps of Mongolia. It's the largest, one of largest, unfenced grasslands left on the planet.

And over a two-week period, maybe 500,000 gazelles will give birth. So we're going to go out and do little neonatal exams, just like taking your baby to the pediatrician, and collect blood samples. We're trying to develop a health profile for that population and integrate that into a management plan for them.

GROSS: What kind of management plan?

KARESH: Well, the gazelles are important source of meat and skins for the Mongolians. And they do harvest them at certain times of year. But the harvesting has always been based on a best guess rather than knowing really how many animals reproduce every year and how many die naturally every year.

So, we're trying to get some good objective information and see that if their harvesting practices really make sense. A lot like hunting is done in the U.S. It's like whitetail deer on East Coast is -- they try to base it on reproductive rates and population, so that they're continuing to be more -- in this case, more gazelles -- who don't want them hunted to extinction.

GROSS: Dr. William Karesh heads the International Field Veterinary Program for the Wildlife Conservation Society. His memoir is called "Appointment at the End of the World."

I'm Terry Gross and this is FRESH AIR.

This is a rush transcript. This copy may not
be in its final form and may be updated.

Dateline: Terry Gross, Washington, D.C.
Guest: Dr. William Karesh
High: William Karesh is a wildlife veterinarian in some of the world's most remote areas. He's written about his experiences in "Appointment at the Ends of the World: Memoirs of a Wildlife Veterinarian." Karesh heads the International Field Veterinary Program for the Wildlife Conservation Society, located at the Bronx Zoo in New York.
Spec: Animals; Africa; Lifestyle; Culture; Dr. William Karesh

Please note, this is not the final feed of record
Copy: Content and programming copyright 1999 WHYY, Inc. All rights reserved. Transcribed by FDCH, Inc. under license from WHYY, Inc. Formatting copyright 1999 FDCH, Inc. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to WHYY, Inc. This transcript may not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission.
End-Story: Wildlife Veterinarian

Date: JUNE 29, 1999
Time: 12:00
Tran: 062902NP.217
Head: Politics, War and Mountain Gorillas
Sect: News; International
Time: 12:30

TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

About 300 rare mountain gorillas, that's about half of the world's surviving population, live in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park in Uganda. Dr. Craig Stanford is an anthropologist who studies gorillas and chimpanzees there.

He hasn't been back to the park since a few days before the massacre of Western tourists last March. You probably heard part of the story. On March 1st, the park was attacked by about 100 members of the Hutu Intahmwa (ph) rebels who were also behind the Rwandan genocide.

They burned down many have the tourist camps, killed one of the park wardens and kidnapped 14 people, mostly Western tourists who had paid to observe mountain gorillas. Stanford's field assistant was one of the hostages.

The hostages were divided into two groups, one group was murdered, the other group was allowed to live. Stanford's assistant survived.

Craig Stanford teaches at the University of Southern California. I spoke to him from Los Angeles. He told me he found out about the attack shortly after he left Uganda and returned home.

DR. CRAIG STANFORD, ANTHROPOLOGIST; AUTHOR, "THE HUNTING APES," "CHIMPANZEE AND RED COLOBUS": I run a research project that has a small camp that's located about eight miles into the forest away from the tourism center, Bhomo (ph), where the attacked happened. And so we stayed there. I have some Ugandan field assistants who are permanently based there, and Mitchell Kiefer (ph) is my current foreign research assistant coming from Calgary in Canada.

I had left that camp, passing through the tourist camp about 10 days earlier before the attack. And Mitch had actually taken me back to Kampala, and I had then flown home to LA And then I got an e-mail on the morning of March 1st, because I get up during the night to work a lot on my computer, and I got an e-mail about four in the morning from a colleague in Rwanda saying -- just said, "attack at Bhomo, no details right now. More later."

And so that didn't tell me very much. I thought maybe it meant there was a bandit attack, you know, just somebody robbing the camp. And then that morning at breakfast I was called by the Ottawa foreign affairs people who are the equivalent of our State Department telling me that they thought Mitch was a hostage, which I didn't believe actually.

I thought his agenda would have put him somewhere else that particular day. And then I called his mom and dad, who live on a farm outside of Calgary, and they said, no, we just talked to him on the phone and in fact he almost certainly was in that camp the night it was hit -- or the morning it was hit.

And so I then learned -- actually, later that day Uganda time, but it was California time early in the morning on March 1st that he was a hostage.

GROSS: So, about half of the people taken hostage were murdered and the other half were released. What condition was the part of the park that the attack took place in left in?

STANFORD: Well, my understanding, and again I haven't been there since the attack. I was suppose to go back May 1st, and I canceled that trip because the security situation there isn't entirely clear.

My understanding is that the camps -- it's a dirt road. It's the termination of a long dirt road that you take to get to the park, and then the tourist lodges and the campgrounds and so forth are lined up alongside each side of the dirt road. Is that some of them were damaged and burned.

The community campground, which is the six dollar a night campground run by the local village folks for backpacking type tourists, that camp was burned. That was where Mitch was staying that night. And in general, the place was kind of ransacked -- vehicles blown up and so forth.

GROSS: This attack must have temporarily totally killed tourism in that area.

STANFORD: Yeah, what happened is that a moratorium was placed on tourism. I mean, an official ban on tourism to that park for one month. And of course, in a longer-term is a terrible thing for Uganda's effort to develop themselves, partly via ecotourism.

Surprisingly, as soon as the ban on tourism was lifted a month later on April 1st, some tourists did return. The big tourist outfits, Abercrombie and Kent (ph) and some of the other safari companies left and they may return later, but they haven't returned yet.

But the more independent kind of travelers, backpackers and so forth, began coming back as soon as the park opened for tourism. Whether that was a smart thing for them to do or not is another question.

But tourism has been terribly hurt, not only in Bwindi, the place where the attack happened, but really throughout Uganda. And it is a shame because Uganda, although many Americans I think still think of Uganda from the Idi Amin years 20 years ago, Uganda has done a really amazing job of developing, being very pro-West, and developing but not entirely at the expense of the natural resources. They have understood the value of protecting wildlife and wildlife sanctuary's and benefiting from the tourist interest in visiting those places.

GROSS: Is the tourism good or bad for wildlife in Africa?

STANFORD: Well, I think that's a good question. For the mountain gorillas, which I'm more familiar with, I'm most familiar with, I think that it's on the whole a good thing. With the proviso that there are many problems involved, and it's certainly a very insecure basis on which to try to protect the 600 remaining mountain gorillas in perpetuity.

The reason being that in the part of world where mountain gorillas still live there are 300 which live in the Virunga volcanoes conservation area which is mainly in Rwanda. And then there are 300 in Bwindi, which is entirely within Uganda. That's one of the most biologically fascinating and at the same time politically messed up places on Earth.

And that means that any effort to protect the gorilla that assumes that ecotourism dollars will be there, and tourists when they come to see the gorillas at Bwindi, at least before the attack, were paying up to $240 for a gorilla viewing permit. Meaning, $240 to spend one hour with the gorillas, and a maximum of about 12 to 14 tourists per day were paying that. So, it's a lot of money.

Not to mention all the ancillary money that's laid out. And 20 percent of that permit fee goes to local villages. So the economic incentive for local people to protect the gorillas, to not harass them, not kill them, not cut down the forest is -- was great. And without the tourism, of course that incentive is removed.

And since it all relied on tourism, the conservation effort, I think we realize now that it's not a very stable basis for protecting a critically endangered wildlife species.

GROSS: Your work in the park is studying chimps and gorillas. And I'm wondering if the chimps and gorillas have been killed or injured during these wars in that part of Africa.

STANFORD: Well, certainly in the Virunga volcanoes in Rwanda poaching was an enormous problem back in Diane Fossey's (ph) day. Meaning, poaching for either to get baby gorillas to try to sell to some zoo or something like that, or else poaching for the horrible souvenir trade. Meaning, to make ashtrays and so forth out of guerrilla hands.

But death through wars, in the genocidal war in Rwanda in '94 one of the ironies was, regarding wildlife, that something like 800,000 people died and only five gorillas were known to have been killed due directly or indirectly to the military action that was going on there. And that may be partly because both sides, the army and the rebels, recognized that whoever controlled Rwanda would want the tourism dollars that the gorillas could bring in.

So the wars per se don't necessarily kill gorillas or devastate the guerrilla habitat. But certainly all of the other things connected to the war and all of the instability that's spread by the war that keeps conversation effort at a minimum or keeps tourism away is just awful.

So, the gorillas, and recently there's been a terrible problem of course with refugees going through the forest in the Virunga's and trashing the habitat and things like that.

GROSS: The park in Bwindi in which you operate, the park that was also the site of the tourist attack, is in southwestern Uganda. What is the importance of this park environmentally and for the gorillas that the live there?

STANFORD: Well, Bwindi is just an absolutely amazing place. And I think most people who have heard of Bwindi, or heard of it before the attack, knew it as the place to go see mountain gorillas. And it's been featured in lots of travel sections of major newspapers and so forth. But really the gorillas may be the most visible wildlife and the most attention attracting wildlife.

But Bwindi is just a tremendous natural treasure for all of Africa, and really for the entire world. It's on UNESCO's list of world heritage sites, and it's a place that has an extremely high level of species endomism (ph). Meaning, species that are found nowhere else, or almost nowhere else, except this 300 and some square kilometer forest.

So, there are many birds for instance that live in the forest at Bwindi that are found in only one or two other forests in the world. And their main breeding populations are in Bwindi. It's a very rugged, high altitude tropical forest. It's 8,000 or 10,000 - 8,000 feet maximum elevation. It's a chilly place. It's not a classic lowland rain forest at all.

And there are very few mountainous rain forests left in Africa. So protecting it not just the gorillas, but all of the wildlife, all of the plants and animals, really is a major goal for all the conservation organizations. And losing it, either through loss of the forest or loss of the wildlife, is just an enormous loss for humanity.

GROSS: And what does it have to be protected from, from developers and from war?

STANFORD: Well, the 300 square kilometers that remain are there only because local people haven't deforested the area around it. I mean, it's basically an island that sits in the middle of a human sea today.

It needs to be protected from forest cutting. That is from poaching of the trees that are within the park boundary. The wildlife need to be protected from poaching.

There are very few, actually, species of the larger hoofed animals. There's a very small herd of elephant remaining. There are small populations of antelope and so forth. But there has been a lot of poaching over the years of those animals just by local people for food.

So the conservation effort kind of uses gorillas as a flagship animal, but is aimed at protecting the entire forest. And of course that's an enormous job. People are hungry. People very poor. People have very little land for their farms and their families. And so the gorillas were useful for the conservation effort. They still are.

Not only to protect them for their own intrinsic value, but also to use them as a flagship to protect the entire forest.

GROSS: Do a lot of people who live in that area resent the attention that wildlife is getting when the people themselves are so poor and in such need of attention?

STANFORD: Well, I think that would definitely be true if it weren't that tourism dollars that have been coming in were partly given to the local communities. So 20 percent of every guerrilla permit -- 20 percent of every $240 permit went to local villages.

So if you walked to a village that's within a few miles of Bwindi that village today will have a dispensary, or will have some kind of agricultural project going on that wouldn't exist except for the gorilla tourism. And local people, you know, are extremely rational as anybody would be. And they realize that there's a real economic incentive here to not harming the gorillas and not going in and trashing and cutting down the forest.

So, again, another way in which tourism has been very valuable there.

GROSS: Was tourism basically the only source of income for some of the villages that got tourism dollars?

STANFORD: Well, what happened was that the villages around Bwindi received an economic windfall when tourism began because 20 percent of the gorilla permit fees began going to those local villages. And those villages over time became pretty dependent on tourism money. So, my concern about that area is not only the gorillas, but also that those villages now are destitute because tourism dollars are going to disappear and so will the percentage going to them.

So, those villages are farming villages primarily, but I believe there are an awful lot of people there who did become dependent on tourism and people were drawn to the area to work as porters, to work in shops and so forth. And to work in jobs connected to the tourist industry.

So, in that sense they are quite dependent.

GROSS: My guest is anthropologist Craig Stanford. He studies mountain gorillas and chimpanzees in a national park in Uganda. We'll talk more after a break.

This is FRESH AIR.


GROSS: My guest is anthropologist Craig Stanford. He studies mountain gorillas and chimpanzees in the Ugandan national park where a group of Western tourists were massacred last March.

Will you describe the research that you're doing with chimpanzees and gorillas?

STANFORD: Yeah, what we've been doing for the past three years, and I have a history over the past decade of working with chimps in different parts of Africa. I came to Bwindi three years ago to set up a project that we called the Bwindian Penetrable Great Ape Project, and it looks at the relationship between chimpanzees and mountain gorillas.

And one of the things that Bwindi is unique for is that it's the only forest on the African continent where you have both mountain gorillas and chimpanzees. And there are many other forests in Africa where you have one or the other, or where you have lowland gorillas and chimpanzees.

But Bwindi is the only place where you these two great apes living in the same forest and sharing the same resources. And so, we've been investigating and trying to figure out what's the relationship. Do they compete for food?

Some people, we haven't seen this yet, some people have seen gorillas and chimps in the same tree, which is I'm sure a spectacular site. A 400 pound silverback gorilla and chimpanzees way up in the same tree canopy.

And do they compete for nesting spots and this sort of thing. And that's an intrinsically interesting set of questions, and it's also useful for the conservation effort in terms of learning more about Bwindi gorillas.

Bwindi is about 30 miles from the Virunga volcanoes. In between the two forests there is just farmland, so the gorillas from the two forest areas don't migrate across, they're isolated.

And the Virunga's is where Dianne Fossey and all of her students who followed her did their famous work back in the '60s, '70s and '80s. And so there's a huge database from the Virunga's on what those mountain gorillas are all about.

The other half of the world's mountain gorillas that live in Bwindi we still know very, very little about. So, the project is aimed at understanding the gorillas themselves and also looking at the relationship between the chimps and the gorillas.

GROSS: What are the big questions that you want really want to know the answers to?

STANFORD: Regarding the chimps and the gorillas?

GROSS: Yeah.

STANFORD: I would say the two sets of questions are first of all, I'm an anthropologist and so my career is about trying to reconstruct elements of early human life. And the fascinating thing about Bwindi from that perspective is that we know that some of the earliest important things that happened in human evolution happened right in the same geographic area where Bwindi is located. Right at the western edge of the Great Rift Valley in East Africa.

And we know that there were times earlier in our history when they where be multiple, two, three or more, species of early human living in the same place at the same time. Which of course doesn't -- that doesn't exist today. So, looking at two great apes that live in the same forest sharing the same resources is a study that may give us some insight into the relationship among early human ancestors who also have to share the same resources.

And then the other part of the research, and actually the reason that I went there and just fell in love with the place and decided I had to be involved in the research effort in some way, is that it's just a spectacularly beautiful and spectacularly interesting ecosystem. As I said, it's a rugged, high mountain range with tropical forests all across it.

And the ecosystem itself is fascinating. You could spend many lifetimes trying to learn about the relationships between the plants and animals in this forest. It's kind of the Yellowstone for the African continent. And so, given that there has been a very small research presence there over the last couple of decades, it's just an absolutely wonderful place to go and just learn about the world.

GROSS: When do you think you might feel that it's safe for you to return to Bwindi and resume your research with the chimps and gorillas?

STANFORD: Well, I cancelled this trip because the security situation was really just not clear. In fact, I had originally planned to have my family and my three small children there with me just about the time of the attack, and I'm glad it didn't work out that way.

As for the future, I'm planning to go back at the end of this year and move the camp that I've built to the other side of park, about 30 miles away, to an area that is much more secure where we have other researchers who have gone back and are continuing their work. And there is kind of a research headquarters there.

But to be honest, I'm not convinced right now, and I'm not there so I can't say firsthand, but I'm not convinced that the security situation is going to be better in the long-term. Because the rebels who attacked, in fact about two weeks before the attack, my assistant and I were sitting around the camp one night talking about the fact that these rebels were just across the border; that we knew they were there; that the Ugandan Army knew they were there. And no one believed that they were organized enough to form a militia that would then attack Homo, this major settlement that was guarded by park rangers with rifles and so forth.

So, we knew the people were there. They're still there. There are something like 10,000 to 20,000 in Terahamwa (ph) who were ejected from Rwanda after the civil war there in '94 and are now living scattered around Eastern Congo across the border from Uganda.

so, that situation isn't going to change anytime soon. And I have to say that I think that the situation is going to be unstable there for the near-term, maybe the long-term future. That's kind of the way that East Central Africa has been for the last decade or so.

GROSS: Was this a concern of yours when you first went to the park in 1996 to begin your research?

STANFORD: Well, actually no. Because first, we hadn't had any history of any rebel incursions in that part of Uganda. And only later when I was working there in the camp that we built, as I said, it's about eight kilometers from the tourist center. And it's only about 5 kilometers or three miles or so from the border with Congo. It's right on the border

And we started hearing about attacks that these Terahamwa rebels, who were living as a kind of a rag-tag army scattered through different settlements on the Congo side, were launching attacks across the border into Uganda and raiding villages and taking supplies and occasionally killing someone or burning down a house.

And they were doing it really just as bandits who had no -- nothing to eat and had no supplies. So, we didn't really think of them as being potentially a paramilitary force that would stage major incursions that would include kidnapping or killing. We worried about robberies.

And it makes me think twice about setting the project up again, but it's one of those things that the State Department had no travel advisory issued for that part of Uganda. Which is unusual considering that they often have advisories issued for places that researchers who live there know to be really quite safe.

I mean, I have to say that my perspective on safety in Bwindi is relative because I feel having lived in Africa and other developing parts of the world for many years that living in rural Africa is on the whole a lot safer than living in most American cities.

I mean, I live very close to LA, and I certainly feel safer living in rural Africa than I feel just walking around the streets of any urban area in the U.S. It's like living in a small farming community when you're in rural Africa. And of course what changes that is when you have -- is when you have warfare or these kinds of rebel movements going on.

GROSS: Well, Craig Stanford, I want to thank you very much for talking with us.

STANFORD: Thank you, Terry.

GROSS: And good luck on your return to Africa.

STANFORD: Yeah, thanks a lot.

GROSS: Craig Stanford teaches anthropology at the University of Southern California. He studies mountain gorillas and chimpanzees at a national park in Uganda.

This is FRESH AIR.

This is a rush transcript. This copy may not
be in its final form and may be updated.

Dateline: Terry Gross, Washington, D.C.
Guest: Dr. Craig Stanford
High: Craig Stanford studies chimpanzees and gorillas in Uganda. In early March, Hutu rebels kidnapped 14 Westerners, including his field assistant. Eight of the hostages were killed. Stanford had left the region before the attack. Stanford talks about the political situation and its impact on the wildlife there. He is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Southern California. He is the author of "The Hunting Apes," and "Chimpanzee and Red Colobus."
Spec: Africa; Animals; War; Violence; Science; Lifestyle; Culture; Dr. Craig Stanford

Please note, this is not the final feed of record
Copy: Content and programming copyright 1999 WHYY, Inc. All rights reserved. Transcribed by FDCH, Inc. under license from WHYY, Inc. Formatting copyright 1999 FDCH, Inc. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to WHYY, Inc. This transcript may not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission.
End-Story: Politics, War and Mountain Gorillas

Date: JUNE 29, 1999
Time: 12:00
Tran: 062903NP.217
Head: Review of Ron Sexsmith's "Whereabouts"
Sect: Entertainment
Time: 12:50

TERRY GROSS, HOST: Ron Sexsmith is a Canadian singer and songwriter in his 30s. Over the past few years he's become a favorite among critics, including our rock critic Ken Tucker. Sexsmith has a new CD called "Whereabouts," which finds him making the sort of carefully crafted music that sustains a reputation if not big record sales. Ken has a review.


These words have lingered on
I won't let you fall
Though I must have heard it wrong

Cause I've been lying here
Seems all these broken songs
Have fallen on deaf ears
Oh I must have heard you wrong

KEN TUCKER, ROCK CRITIC: With his sour phrasing and a face that looks like a ripe plum with a Beatles haircut, Ron Sexsmith is the embodiment of fruity melancholy. And I love the guy for it. There aren't many musicians around willing to be so boldly wimpy; so unabashedly dependent upon the object of his affection.

Listen to him beg for it on "Right About Now."


When the world is wearing me down
And the wind has thrown its weight around
So cold
It blows right through me

I need your love
I sure could use your love right about now

TUCKER: Ron Sexsmith is mannerly and precise, both Canadian traits if you'll permit national stereotypes. When he sings in a tune called "River Bed," "never said I'd be your superhero, never said I'd be strong," he's not being unduly modest. Sexsmith's music takes its strength from its author's lyrical vulnerability.

His material rarely sounds spineless or soggy because he has such a sure sense of melody and narrative. It also helps that he enlists aid from producers like Mitchell Froom and Chad Blake, who have worked with acts ranging from Elvis Costello to Randy Newman. And who surround him with just the right amount of musical ornamentation, from plaintiff banjos to zinging violins.


River bed
I'll lay my head upon your pillow
And watch the waves go flowing by
River bed

Underneath the weeping willow
I'll sleep until the sun light fills the sky
Never said I would be your superhero
I never said that I was strong

River bed
I'll lay my head upon your pillow
If you'll just let this night go on and on

TUCKER: Like everything else about Sexsmith's work I think the title of this CD is very deliberately thought through. "Whereabouts," it's a slightly old-fashioned word rarely used conversationally these days, and it suggests the singer's primary concern: locating himself in the world, trying to figure out where he fits in.

This is expressed most decisively on the collection's best, most straightforward song, "Beautiful View."


If I had all this time on my hands
I would love to share it with you
Even though our days have made it last
For there is nothing I'd rather do

Then sit and talk with you
My beautiful view
The squinting of her eyes as she smiles
The glinting of the sun in her hair

She wets her lips and takes us above
(Unintelligible) as I try not to stare
And though I try not to
Such a beautiful view

TUCKER: Ron Sexsmith is, I'm afraid, one of those guys destined to fall between the cracks in America. The baby boomers who would most naturally enjoy his music, hear its roots in early Jackson Browne and the Kinks' Ray Davies, will probably never become aware of him in sizable numbers.

And post-baby boomers, well, why should they care about Sexsmith's wistful maturity and hard-won ambivalence? Working in a form that prizes force and momentum, Ron Sexsmith is gloriously vague.

GROSS: Ken Tucker is critic at large for "Entertainment Weekly." He reviewed Ron Sexsmith's new CD, "Whereabouts."

I'm Terry Gross.

This is a rush transcript. This copy may not
be in its final form and may be updated.

Dateline: Terry Gross, Washington, D.C.
Guest: Ken Tucker
High: Rock critic KEN TUCKER reviews the new CD "Whereabouts" by Canadian singer and songwriter Ron Sexsmith.
Spec: Entertainment; Music Industry; Lifestyle; Culture; Ron Sexsmith; Ken Tucker

Please note, this is not the final feed of record
Copy: Content and programming copyright 1999 WHYY, Inc. All rights reserved. Transcribed by FDCH, Inc. under license from WHYY, Inc. Formatting copyright 1999 FDCH, Inc. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to WHYY, Inc. This transcript may not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission.
End-Story: Review of Ron Sexsmith's "Whereabouts"
Transcripts are created on a rush deadline, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Fresh Air interviews and reviews are the audio recordings of each segment.

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