All posts tagged: guerillas’ former jungle strongholds

The War That Helped Protect a Rainforest

The War That Helped Protect a Rainforest

The Belgian empire invaded the Congo rainforest during the late 19th century and swiftly established itself as the cruelest imperial force in Africa. The Congo is the world’s second-largest rainforest behind the Amazon, and King Leopold II treated it like a personal loot box. To strip away and sell its resources, he enslaved the Indigenous population, destroying much of the region’s preexisting culture and politics from the family unit on upward. The penalty for failing to meet his rubber quotas was amputation. Millions died during his extractive reign, and ever since, the rainforest has rarely known peace. To a certain cast of mind, the rainforests that straddle Earth’s equatorial zone constitute the apex of all creation. Every day, 12 hours of sunlight strikes their canopies and beams down through cracks to ferns on the forest floor. This daily dose of sun also burns off mist from equatorial oceans and rivers, raising a belt of clouds from the planet’s midsection. The droplets that fall from it put the rain in rainforest. Together, these twin supplies of …