Oct 19, 2017

New Bonobo Discoveries!

Presley, Nkokoalongo bonobo group
Presley, Nkokoalongo bonobo group

Thank you to everyone who participated in the GlobalGiving’s Giving Week Bonus Day earlier this month! We are fortunate to have such a great community of supporters and we always appreciate the opportunity to make your donations go further.

As our monitoring and research programs progress at Kokolopori, we are excited to hear about other discoveries about our favorite species. A recent study published by a team of anatomists and evolutionary biologists has further demonstrated that humans may be even more similar anatomically to bonobos than to chimpanzees (Diogo, R., et al., 2017). The researchers studied head-neck, forelimb, and hindlimb muscles in bonobo specimens from the Antwerp Zoo, and compared to previous studies of other great apes. They concluded that bonobos, by virtue of their muscle patterns, most closely resemble the last common ancestor of modern day humans, chimpanzees, and bonobos.

At Kokolopori, our monitoring teams continue to follow and learn more about the bonobos. As we have previously reported, researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI) have been studying two groups at the reserve. A third group—the Bekako group—has been observed joining one or both of the study groups on several occasions, most recently in August. As a result of this exciting development, the MPI team has provided additional training to the Bekako monitoring team in GPS and identification techniques, as we work to habituate and learn more about this group. We know that the group comprises approximately 16 bonobos, about half of which are juveniles and infants. As we advance the process of habituating the Bekako bonobos, we will be naming individuals after rivers.

Our work with the communities of Kokolopori, in particular the support of our tracking teams, is providing unprecedented opportunities to observe and gain even more insight into the lives and behaviors of bonobos. The benefit of the continual presence of local tracking teams is evident in the photos that are coming from our field projects. As the bonobos become more habituated to their observers, their personalities and uncanny similarities to human expressions are certainly coming through.  We hope you enjoy the attached pictures as much as we do!

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

Infant Tupac, with his mother Tyler
Infant Tupac, with his mother Tyler
Ray, Nkokoalongo bonobo group
Ray, Nkokoalongo bonobo group

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Jul 21, 2017

At Lilungu, the journey continues

We'd like to say a huge thank you to all our supporters who participated in the GlobalGiving Rewards Bonus Day last week!  Donations were matched at 50%, thanks to our Superstar status--which YOU earned for us. Your generosity truly makes our work possible.

Over the past several months, our partners at Lilungu have continued the journey to gain legal protection of their 1.3 million acre forest.  Building upon the community accords obtained in late 2016, local NGO The Association for the Protection of Bonobos of Lilungu (APBL) registered with the Tshuapa provincial government. APBL gained certification to conduct programs in the fields of nature conservation, food security, health, education, and riverine community development. This process required the approval of not only the provincial governor, but of three separate government ministries!

The road to establishing a legally recognized community forest reserve does not end here, though. As required by DRC forestry law, the next step is to conduct participatory mapping, zoning, and demarcation activities for the reserve, as well as expanded biological surveys in the Lilungu forest. We continue to seek support for these essential tasks, as well as to continue our ongoing bonobo monitoring and community conservation programs.

We are proud of the leadership of APBL and the dedication of our bonobo tracking teams, with whom we have been working for over a decade. Thanks to their hard work, we continue to make great progress toward establishing a safe haven for bonobos and biodiversity in this vital rainforest region.

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

Apr 24, 2017

Transition and Continuity at Kokolopori

Peche, of the Ekalakala bonobo group
Peche, of the Ekalakala bonobo group

The theme of last few months at the Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve has been transition and continuity. In the early months of this year, a new team of researchers and camp managers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology arrived. They will take over from the very capable team who built our forest research camp from scratch. The departing and incoming crews shared valuable information, which has enabled a smooth transition and will ensure that the research project continues to collect high quality data on bonobos and their environment. The progress achieved to date is evident in the photos that were shared by project leader Martin Surbeck from this latest expedition. The bonobos are much more comfortable with their human observers, which is helping the team to gather more and more information on how bonobos interact with each other and their environment.

Our local tracking teams have also undergone some transitions of their own. Not only have they been building relationships with the new research camp team, but some have been receiving additional training in bonobo habituation. The newly trained trackers will help to habituate the neighboring Bekako bonobo group, which has been observed interacting with the two research groups, known as the Ekalakala and Nkokoalongo bonobo groups. The trackers also welcomed a new younger member to the team—a testament to the legacy of BCI’s long-term work with the communities of Kololopori.

Not to be outdone by their human neighbors, the bonobos have also been doing their part in the continuity department. Two new males have been born this year in the Nkokoalongo group. The new members of this musician-themed group are Tupac (born to Tyler) and Schubert (born to Simone).

Through this infusion of new life and new team members at Kokolopori, we are helping to ensure the continuity of our work in protecting and learning more about bonobos. We are building something lasting for generations of people and bonobos alike. As always, thank you for standing with us…and please help BCI and our partners by spreading the word about our work!

Future bonobo trackers
Future bonobo trackers
Young bonobos grooming at Kokolopori
Young bonobos grooming at Kokolopori
 
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