We leave the park headquarters by jeep, following a pickup loaded with armed rangers, their booted feet dangling over the sides of the truck bed. For an hour, our vehicles climb the narrow, winding dirt road through tea plantations and eucalyptus groves until we arrive at a wall of forest.
In the middle of one of the largest forests on Earth, miles from the nearest town, a tree crashes to the ground. Another soon follows it, then another, and another. Before long, an area the size of 600 American football fields is transformed into a gaping hole in the trees in central Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) — a hole big enough to catch the eye of a researcher hundreds of miles away in the country’s capital.