November 20, 2002 - Georgetown Times: Tanzania RPCV Mike Fay attempts to save a pristine jungle

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2002: 11 November 2002 Peace Corps Headlines: November 20, 2002 - Georgetown Times: Tanzania RPCV Mike Fay attempts to save a pristine jungle

By Admin1 (admin) on Wednesday, November 20, 2002 - 10:49 am: Edit Post

Tanzania RPCV Mike Fay attempts to save a pristine jungle





Read and comment on this story from the Georgetown Times on Tanzania RPCV Mike Fay who is a man possessed with saving the African rainforest and was selected by U.S. News and World Report last year as one of the earthís 25 most prominent heroes.

Michael conducted a 15-month, 1,200-mile trek through equatorial Africa two years ago that has led the United States government to put $46 million into a public-private partnership to create and maintain parks and forests across six central African countries: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Republic of Congo. It is the largest grant ever awarded by the U.S. government.

Read the story at:


Exployer attempts to save a pristine jungle*

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.



Exployer attempts to save a pristine jungle

By Jason Lesley, TIMES MANAGING EDITOR November 20, 2002

Jim and Helen Fay have a library of videotapes and articles about their son Michael in the den of their home at Wachesaw Plantation.

If a guest is fortunate enough to be invited to their home, the fare, the conversation and the library become a treasure trove of unexpected delights.

Jim is a retired insurance executive who spends a good bit of time volunteering at Brookgreen Gardens these days since being forced to curtail his golf because of health reasons. Helen makes sure he stays well grounded.

But thereís hardly any way for these loving parents to overstate the accomplishments of their son Michael, a modern day equivalent to Lewis and Clark.

Michael is a man possessed with saving the African rainforest and was selected by U.S. News and World Report last year as one of the earthís 25 most prominent heroes.

Michael conducted a 15-month, 1,200-mile trek through equatorial Africa two years ago that has led the United States government to put $46 million into a public-private partnership to create and maintain parks and forests across six central African countries: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Republic of Congo. It is the largest grant ever awarded by the U.S. government.

But every trip of 1,000 miles begins with a single step, and Michaelís walk across Africaís wild heart and the stories and pictures it generated for National Geographic Magazine are responsible for this enormous conservation effort.

On Sept. 20, 1999, Michael set out to walk 1,200 miles across the Republic of the Congo and Gabon, through jungles no human had ever crossed. His goal was to witness one of the last pristine ecosystems on earth and bring back data that would help save it from development and logging.

"The objective was to go as deep and far from human species as possible," Michael said to U.S. News and World Report. The magazine said his adventure may secure his place as one of the modern eraís boldest adventurers.

By the time Michael, 44, emerged on a Gabonese beach 460 days after he stepped into the jungle he had crossed paths with elephants 100 times and filled 39 waterproof notebooks with data on everything from gorilla and crocodile sightings to tree species, campfires and poachers.

Michaelís entire life seems to have been prologue to his African adventure. It started with childhood hikes in the San Gabriel mountains, which rise above the smog of Los Angeles, and led to six years in the Peace Corps and a doctorate on the western lowland gorilla.

He envisioned his walk across Africa as a colossal version of an ecological transect, a standard means of sampling an ecosystem in which a scientist tallies plants and animals along a straight path. It came to be known as the Megatransect.

To plan his route, Michael flew across the jungle for hundreds of hours, combed maps and talked to conservationists working in the area. He wanted to find the most remote patches of forest that could be traversed in a single walk.

The Faysí videotapes of the trek detail the wild animals, the insects, snakes and the exhaustion they all faced. The entire team caught pneumonia - a low point of the entire experience. Michael pushed his original crew of about a dozen locals past the breaking point, and they all quit. He hired others and pushed on, in the face of hardship, disease and death.

The video chronicles face-to-face contacts with elephants - never run, Michael says - and poachers as they cook animal carcasses over fires.

On the way, he discovered that the jungle begins every day with a symphony of bird songs.

When the party reached the beach in Gabon, the first thing that Michael did was call his parents on his satellite phone.

Two years later, real progress has been made. Michael raised about $4 million to buy land from timber companies and create a national park in the Congo. He met with President Omar Bongo, who has ruled Gabon since 1967, and showed him some of the photos taken on the trek. The president was so moved, he decided to set aside 10,000 square miles of pristine forest.

That action brought U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell to Gabon, where he met Michael and walked for 40 minutes along the edge of the rainforest, past a brackish lagoon and under towering trees. Powell told a reporter from The Washington Post that he would always remember the experience.

©Georgetown Times 2002



Click on a link below for more stories on PCOL

Top Stories and Discussion on PCOL
Dodd's Amended Bill passes in SenateElection 2002:  RPCVs run for office
Peace Corps Volunteers Safe in Ivory CoastA Profile of Gaddi Vasquez
Sargent Shriver and the Politics of Life911:  A Different America
USA Freedom Corps - "paved with good intentions"PCV hostage rescued from terrorists
GAO reports on Volunteer Safety and SecurityPeace Corps out of Russia?
Help the New Peace Corps Bill pass CongressUSA Freedom Cops TIPS Program


Top Stories and Discussion on PCOL
Senior Staff Appointments at Peace Corps HeadquartersFor the Peace Corps Fallen
Senator Dodd holds Hearings on New Peace Corps LegislationThe Debate over the Peace Corps Fund
Why the Peace Corps needs a Fourth GoalThe Peace Corps 40th plus one
The Case for Peace Corps IndependenceThe Controversy over Lariam
The Peace Corps and Homeland SecurityDirector Vasquez meets with RPCVs
RPCV Congressmen support Peace Corps' autonomyPeace Corps Expansion:  The Numbers Game?
When should the Peace Corps return to Afghanistan?Peace Corps Cartoons



Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Service; Special Interests - Environment; What RPCVs are doing; COS - Tanzania

PCOL1435
79

.


Add a Message


This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.
Username:  
Password:
E-mail: