The summit is an example of what’s referred to as “soft diplomacy:” creating positive relationships with foreign countries through the learning and sharing of information, without any political ramifications.
Despite a French-English language barrier, Bozeman Fish, Wildlife, and Parks employees and DR Congo representatives, who work for various territorial entities and agriculture cooperatives throughout the central African country, were able to communicate through the use of a translator and earpieces.
On Monday, the group discussed the North American model of wildlife management, which manages boundaries between the federal and state jurisdictions, and how game is managed through hunting and regulation.
While the landscape managed by the Congolese representatives may seem vastly different than southwest Montana, the group says there was more common ground between them than meets the eye.
A wildlife biologist for Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, Julie Cunningham has been a speaker for five other foreign groups, conducting a presentation with the DR Congo group on Monday about wildlife management.
“It’s fun to discuss [wildlife management] with other nations and learn about what they do and talk about what we do, what works, and what doesn’t. Some of our challenges that we have can be really similar to their’s.”
Eric Babunga Byamungu, an administrative secretary in the Kabare Territory of DR Congo’s South Kivu Province, was one of the five representatives.
“Our country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, has a very rich and natural resource into the wildlife, and so rich that it has a worldwide interest for all of humanity,” Babunga Byamungu said through a translator. “So, we want to learn how we can do better, by coming here.”
The group has already visited Washington, D.C., the eastern shore of Virginia, Manchester, New Hampshire, and Helena. They’ll leave for San Francisco on Tuesday for their final summit, before heading back home later this week.