Dec 31, 2019

A Brighter Future for Bonobos

Rubin, one of the newest Ekalakala bonobos
Rubin, one of the newest Ekalakala bonobos

Dear Friend,

As the yearand decadedraw to a close, we would like to thank you everyone who has stepped up to support our work to protect bonobos and their precious habitat in the Congo rainforest. The Bonobo Peace Forest concept is put into action by the combined efforts of many people, especially those who are on the ground in the DRC. Here are some of the highlights from this year:

  • The DRC government officially endorsed the Bonobo Peace Forest with an announcement at the United Nations.
  • Research in the Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve continues under the auspices of Harvard University.
  • Three baby bonobos were born within the bonobo study groups! The Nkokoalongo group welcomed Enigma and Odios, as the Ekalakala group welcomed Rubin.
  • Two postdoctoral researchers have been analyzing bonobo group encounters and will soon publish their findings. This type of behavioral information is crucial for determining best conservation practices.
  • Our conservation and research programs employed many local trackers, providing income and ongoing training for indigenous communities.
  • Together with private sector partners, we are stepping up efforts to establish ecotourism in the Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve.
  • BCI Australia provided support for the Lilungu community forest, a stronghold for bonobos which is now in process for official protection.
  • EarthX—the world’s largest Earth Day expo—announced that it will offset its 2020 carbon footprint by investing in the Bonobo Peace Forest!
  • BCI and partners helped rescue two baby bonobos from poachers. The pet trade is an ongoing threat to bonobos, especially since mothers are often killed in order to kidnap the infants.

Foresight is 2020

The statistics are sobering. Fewer than 15,000 bonobos remain in the wild. The Congo rainforest may be completely gone by the year 2100. Left unchanged, this path leads directly to species collapse and cataclysmic climate change.

They say that hindsight is 20/20, and this year we’d like to turn that saying around. By planning ahead and scaling up our proven, integrated model for conservation and community development, we can change the outcome for bonobos and for ourselves. Let’s dedicate 2020 to envisioning and enacting a path toward a brighter future for bonobos, for their Congo rainforest home, and for all life on Earth.

As always, thank you for standing with us…and please help BCI and our partners by spreading the word about our mission!

Rose gave birth to Rubin in June
Rose gave birth to Rubin in June
Oct 3, 2019

More support for community-led conservation!

In August, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a special report on Climate Change and Land. The report investigated–among other things–land use and sustainable land management in relation to climate change adaptation and mitigation. The review included authors from 52 countries and analyzed over 7,000 publications that included interviews and surveys with indigenous and local communities. Key findings of the report recognized that involvement of indigenous and local communities in land management is essential in effectively adapting to and mitigating climate change—and that improved land management is critical for  biodiversity conservation. 

In response to this report, a consortium of indigenous and community leaders from 42 countries spanning 76% of the world’s tropical forests, released a statement acknowledging the importance of the report. It also included a series of recommendations to enable indignous and local communities to further protect and effectively manage their lands.  

“Where our rights are respected, by contrast, we provide an alternative to economic models that require tradeoffs between the environment and development. Our traditional knowledge and holistic view of nature enables us to feed the world, protect our forests, and maintain global biodiversity.” —Indigenous and Community Response

The headline of their response reads: “Finally, the world’s top scientists recognize what we have always known.” We at BCI expressed the same sentiment! We have been working with local and indigenous communities in the bonobo habitat for over two decades, and the Bonobo Peace Forest is the manifestation of this approach. 

Our local partners can attest that community involvement is the core element of successful conservation. When interviewed by our team last summer, local partner Jean Gaston said: “It is a good vision because in sustainable conservation, it requires the involvement of the community.” Lingomo, another Peace Forest leader, said “We found sustainable conservation with BCI. Because BCI negotiates with the local population, works well with the population, and lives together with the population.”

We are so proud of our on the ground partners who work so hard to protect their forests, which not only protects the biodiversity within, but also keeps countless tons of greenhouse gases from being released into the atmosphere.  We are also grateful that our grassroots approach is beginning to be recognized as a viable and important conservation strategy. Most of all, we are grateful for our supporters, who enable us to continue this important work! 

As always, thank you for standing with us…and please help BCI and our partners by spreading the word about our mission!

Lingomo with BCI president Sally Coxe
Lingomo with BCI president Sally Coxe

Links:

Jul 8, 2019

Bonobo moms lend a helping hand to their sons

Freddy (left) and his mother Fitz
Freddy (left) and his mother Fitz

It seems that humans aren't the only species with helicopter parents. A recent study co-authored by BCI’s research director Dr. Martin Surbeck found that mother bonobos take active roles in helping their sons to achieve success...mating success, that is!

At his previous study site at LuiKotale, Surbeck and his fellow researchers noted that female bonobos occasionally interfered with mating couples. It wasn’t until they were able to analyze DNA from fecal samples and determine how the individual bonobos were related, that they were able to explain the behavior. It turns out that mother bonobos were helping their sons to get the best mating opportunities.  Males who stayed close to their mothers in their groups were three times more likely to produce offspring. 

At our Kokolopori site, Dr. Surbeck’s team of researchers is continuing this approach of observing bonobo behavior in conjunction with DNA collection and analysis to learn more about our primate “cousins.” This information can ultimately help us to improve conservation strategies. Of course, this work continues to be possible because of the foundation of community support and local knowledge at Kokolopori--and the generosity of our donors. 

As always, thank you for standing with us!

P.S. GlobalGiving has another Bonus Day coming up next week! On Thursday, July 18, starting at 9:00 a.m. ET, GlobalGiving will have $250K in matching funds for donations of $100 and above! It’s a great opportunity to maximize the impact of your gift!

Fitz has at least three sons to manage!
Fitz has at least three sons to manage!

Links:

 
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