Garamba National Park in northeastern Congo is one of the most dangerous places to be a wildlife ranger and one of the most difficult places to save elephants from rampaging militias.
Kambale Mate huddled beneath a tangle of grass, looking up at bright stars in a moonless sky, a tumble of chaotic events cascading through his mind.
Where were the other wildlife rangers, Jean de Dieu Matongo and Joel Meriko Ari? Were they alive?
He had been a ranger for only five months at Garamba National Park, the last remaining preserve for disappearing populations of elephants and giraffes in this part of Africa. Yet here he was with two comrades, hiding like small, petrified mammals in the grass. If any of them moved, a large band of poachers nearby could find and kill them.