Late-afternoon in Camp Alpha Town, the furnace of midday heat dissolving in an atmosphere of haze. We return from a day in the forest, hot, sweaty, dehydrated. To the village house of Chief Jusu Dunar we trudge like weary soldiers, sitting on wicker chairs and wooden benches to give thanks for permission to walk in one of Liberia’s remaining forests.
Camp Alpha Town is a mining outpost at the edge of the Gola Forest, Grand Cape Mount County. Diamond mining is the business here. Prospectors and bushmeat hunters cut trails into the forest carrying shovels and single-shot guns on a quest for riches, or maybe just sustenance for another day. Most are not supporting the newly created Gola National Park without reservations. The demarcation of this park will begin in late January. Enforcement of the park’s boundaries will be a contentious issue in Camp Alpha Town, and other villages along the forest edge.