I speak French, and I grew up with French, so my English is Franglais.
Congo, my country, has the largest forest in Africa, maybe the second-largest in the world. I was born in a forest area, and when I was growing up, I assisted my uncle, who was a poacher. That was good, because it grew my passion for protecting the forest and plants.
Congo has vast stands of biologically important forests as well as remote areas still waiting to be explored, yet we have very few botanists. I’m working to expand training for young students and inspire a new generation to make discoveries, spread the word about conservation, and increase protected areas throughout our country.
The Pygmies rely on the forest for their very life. They know everything about finding and using plants, animal behavior, and forest survival. Working with these wonderful people has been incredibly valuable.
Discovering new species is a passion. A day without collecting plants is painful for me.
When I went to university, I decided that I would like to do something related to plant ecology, because I felt that plants were so beautiful. When I am studying plants, I feel like I am talking with some kind of supernatural life, like I am talking with someone who does not speak.
I joined the Wildlife Conservation Society, working there, in 1995, but I started working with them as a student in 1991. I was appointed as a teaching assistant at my university because I accomplished with honor.
Building capacities for the young generation is going to make a better generation and a better future tomorrow for Africa.
Around 17 to 20 years, I became, myself, a poacher. And I wanted to do it, because – I believed – to continue my studies. I wanted to go to university, but my father was poor, my uncle even. So, I did it. And for three to four years, I went to university. For three times, I applied to biomedical science, to be a doctor. I didn’t succeed.