Chinese Demand for Bloodwood Cuts Into Congo’s Ecosystem

Corruption and lack of oversight allow illegally logged timber to be traded from Africa’s heartland to the coast of China.

The News Lens
Date: 2017/01/25

By: Shi Yi

Muyeji Freddy and his team have scoured the bush for hours, but they haven’t found what f779xix4bovej5rr1qub3siz2lwibkthey’re looking for. Freddy would rather not return to camp so early in the day, with the sun still high, but the fruitless search leaves him no choice.

“Next week, we’ll move on and camp in another place,” he tells his group of loggers, some 40 young men from nearby villages.

Their home and hunting grounds are the vast highlands of the Katanga Plateau, in the deep south of the Democratic Republic of Congo in central Africa. Their prey: mukula trees, or bloodwood.

For the past two years, Freddy and his fellow loggers have followed the same routine; carrying just the bare necessities, such as tents and big cooking pots, they move through the forest to look for mukula trees, log them, and sell the wood to Chinese buyers in the provincial capital.