The locals said it could not be done. It was 1999, and the hardheaded ecologist J. Michael Fay was determined to tromp across 2,000 miles of the Congo Basin. In a northeastern patch, he ran into a swampy tangle so thick that he struggled to advance by a single mile in under 12 hours.
“He later said it was one of the most difficult things he had ever attempted in his life,” said Paul Telfer, director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Congo program. When Dr. Fay, also a staff member at the conservation society, emerged from his journey 455 days later, he referred to that wild forested place as “the green abyss.”
Now the government of the Republic of Congo has declared the area a national park, ensuring that the green abyss remains just that. Gorillas, it turns out, do not mind the forests’ tangle.