Bonobo Conservation Initiative

Our Mission is to protect bonobos (Pan paniscus), preserve their tropical rainforest habitat, and empower local communities in the Congo Basin. By working with local Congolese people through cooperative conservation and community development programs, and by shaping national and international policy, the Bonobo Conservation Initiative (BCI) is establishing new protected areas and leading efforts to safeguard bonobos wherever they are found. The Bonobo Peace Forest (BPF) is the guiding vision of BCI: a connected network of community-based reserves and conservation concessions, supported by sustainable development. The Peace Forest provides protection for bonobos and other species in the Congo...
Nov 6, 2014

Bonus Day Thanks and Our Three Musketeers

Bofangi, Ndombasi and Afelende at Kokolopori
Bofangi, Ndombasi and Afelende at Kokolopori

First off, let us offer a heartfelt thank you to our generous Global Giving supporters. You helped us make October’s Bonus Day one of our most successful ever! Thanks to your donations, our project ranking was elevated to Superstar status, affording us greater opportunities for exposure to corporate donors, features in GlobalGiving’s communications, and opportunities for training.

Support from our donors over the years has helped us lay the groundwork for our Bonobo Peace Forest—an integrated network of grassroots, community-managed reserves in the bonobo habitat. The activities initiated at our pilot site, the Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve, have “gone viral”—inspiring three neighboring communities (Lingomo, Nkokolombo, and Likongo) to establish their own reserves. We have dubbed the dynamic leaders of these communities “Les Trois Mousquetaires” or “The Three Musketeers.” At Lingomo, Cosmas Bofangi manages conservation programs through the NGO Conservation of the Resources of Lingomo. Roger Afelende, founder of the Association for Conservation of Bonobos in the Source of Lomako, leads community conservation efforts at Nkokolombo. Finally, at Likongo, Jean Gaston Ndombasi—a provincial Environmental Inspector—heads the NGO Debout Likongo pour la Conservation et le Développement.

These biodiversity-rich sites are situated near the territorial capital of Djolu and are particularly vulnerable to logging and the bushmeat trade. For that reason, the hard work that residents have put into protecting them is all the more urgent and commendable. The energy and devotion of Ndombasi and his community has recently paid off: just this September, Likongo received an arreté from the Ministry of the Environment, signed by the Prime Minister, granting 50,000 hectares as a community forest. This is an important step toward securing greater protection for the area. 

Earlier this year, Bofangi, Afelende, and Ndombasi traveled to Kokolopori to meet with BCI President Sally Jewell Coxe, our team and other partners in the field. The meetings offered us the chance to talk in-depth about the future and how we can improve the odds for bonobo populations. One of the top priorities will be to map the limits of all three forests, which in actuality form one large forest bloc; this will allow the three communities to coordinate their strategies and pursue other goals such as expanding legal protections like the arreté granted to Likongo. It will also support the creation of more habitat corridors for bonobos to travel safely through different regions. Supporting animal husbandry and agricultural programs in the region will also help to mitigate the illegal hunting of bonobos for bushmeat markets.

We at BCI are so thrilled to work in partnership with our wonderful Three Musketeers and their communities. We are proud of the Peace Forest that our loyal supporters have helped create to protect the bonobos, and yet we are even more gratified to see our strategies inspiring others. As Deni Béchard uncovered in Empty Hands, Open Arms, the true measure of our program’s success lies in its self-replication, as our model spreads to protect more bonobos and more rainforest. With enough support, our successful conservation strategies can truly achieve their promise now and for many years to come.

Thank you for standing with us!

Thank you for your support!
Thank you for your support!
Aug 7, 2014

Bonobo monitoring in full swing

Chef d
Chef d'equipe, Mbangi Lofoso, using new equipment

Since our last update, BCI trackers have been busily monitoring bonobo groups at sites across the Bonobo Peace Forest. At Kokolopori, a pilot research program being conducted by Dr. Deborah Moore is off to a good start. Our tracking teams have been trained to collect information on bonobo behavior, feeding, group interactions, and other ecological elements. Dr. Moore and her team have witnessed multiple encounters between two groups, some of which involved physical fighting among males, in addition to the expected amiable social contact. They have been collecting data on plants and fruits eaten by bonobos. Some of these plants, like “beya” (pictured below), are also favorites of the bonobos’ human neighbors.

Thanks in part to our generous Global Giving donors, two of our teams at Kokolopori were outfitted with new equipment. Our trackers were provided with vital supplies, including: ponchos, stopwatches, field notebooks, headlamps, backpacks, batteries, and solar battery chargers. The remote location and wet conditions of the bonobo habitat, deep in the Congo rainforest, certainly puts this equipment to the test! BCI staff saw this firsthand, as the supplies were delivered just as the rainy season was starting.

Meanwhile at Kololopori’s sister sites (Lingomo, Nkokolombo, and Likongo), local conservationists have been observing their own bonobo groups. These monitoring programs are also in need of field equipment and support. It is imperative that we continue to support to these sites, and encourage the motivated and enthusiastic communities to continue and expand their conservation programs.

By gaining a better understanding of bonobo ecology, and through regular monitoring of bonobos, we are taking strides towards ensuring the long-term survival of our great ape cousins. Thank you so much for your kind support!

Tracker, Dadi Bahandjoa, displaying "beya" leaf
Tracker, Dadi Bahandjoa, displaying "beya" leaf
Bonobos grooming at Kokolopori
Bonobos grooming at Kokolopori
May 8, 2014

Mother's Day Greetings from the Rainforest

Our friend, Alden
Our friend, Alden

Every day, BCI trackers and eco-guards are out in the Congo rainforest, tirelessly defending bonobos and their vital habitat. Because of the remote location of the bonobo range, it can be challenging for these rainforest guardians to communicate with BCI headquarters in Kinshasa and Washington, DC. Thanks to our generous supporters, the BCI team has just installed satellite internet (VSAT) in the Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve! We are so excited to bring even more stories and photos from the field to bonobo fans across the world.

BCI President Sally Jewell Coxe is currently in the field, accompanied by primatologist Dr. Deborah Moore. In cooperation with BCI, Max Planck Institute, and local partner Vie Sauvage, Dr. Moore is conducting a study of two habituated bonobo groups in the reserve, gaining invaluable data and insights that will inform further research. Collaborating with local trackers who have been monitoring the bonobos for several years, Deb is paving the way for future scientific work by initiating a long-term research program at Kokolopori. Meanwhile, Sally has been hard at work advancing wildlife protection programs in the reserve and—her favorite activity—observing bonobos. She has sent some incredible pictures via the new VSAT.

With Mother’s Day right around the corner, it seems only fitting to share a few stories about mothers in the Kokolopori reserve. We are delighted to announce that one of the bonobos has given birth to a healthy little baby! Bonobos only reproduce about once every five years, a low birth rate that contributes to their endangered status, so every bonobo baby is a cause for celebration. Bonobos aren’t the only babies in Kokolopori—there are some very special children in the villages, too! A local family honored BCI board member Alden Almquist by naming their son after him. Alden’s ndoyi (namesake) is a bright and cheerful boy, and he greatly enjoyed having his picture taken. He will be joined by a new BCI ndoyi—baby Sally, born just last month. BCI wishes a happy Mother’s Day to all Congo rainforest mothers, human and bonobo alike!

Please help BCI help all these families by contributing today. To keep the VSAT and computer center up and running, BCI needs funds to build a reliable solar energy system. Greater communication between trackers and the global community means greater protection for bonobos and the Congo rainforest. Thank you so much for your kind support!

Installing VSAT Internet
Installing VSAT Internet
Female bonobo, resting just before giving birth
Female bonobo, resting just before giving birth
Our dedicated trackers
Our dedicated trackers

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