In the northeast of DR Congo, in the province of Oriëntale, lies Ituriforest. In this large, dense, mountainous rainforest with canopies of up to 40 meters, a small number of pygmies carry on their traditional way of live with livestock produced by the forest. But for how much longer? The forest is no longer the habitat of only the Efe Pygmies and their traditional forest neighbours, such as Lese, Ndaaka, Mbo, Karo, etc.
This forest lies west of the snow covered Ruwenzori Mountains – once called “the Mountains of the Moon”. Ituri forest is twice the size of the Netherlands. The pygmies’ habitat originally took up a wider part of Africa but they have been pushed back by the migrating Bantu tribes coming from West Africa and are now confined to Ituri forest. It is estimated that today 50,000 to 60,000 Pygmies are living in the forest among more than 2,000,000 Bantu immigrants most of whom have been refugees since the beginning of the rebel war eight years ago. Refugee camps with tens of thousands of displaced persons are not uncommon in the East of Ituri forest, along the road Beni-Komanda-Bunia.
Ituri forest is an area rich in natural resources. Tropical timber is harvested (legally and illegally) on a large scale. Minerals such as gold and coltan (resource for mobile phones) are exploited intensively by day mining techniques, after the trees have been cut down