Jan 26, 2017

Progress at Lilungu

First of all, we would like to offer our heartfelt thanks to you for making our 2016 Year-End Campaign a resounding success. With the help of our generous supporters, our project finished in the top 5% of over 500 participating projects…raising over $10,000! Because of our placement, we have earned the opportunity to be featured on the GlobalGiving.org home page in 2017, exposing our work to even more potential donors. Stay tuned to find out when we’ll be featured!

Meanwhile at Lilungu, we are continuing the process of securing the protection of over 1.3 million acres of rainforest habitat. As our dedicated team of trackers monitors bonobos in five forest blocks, our Congolese logistics staff and local partners are gearing up to take the next steps in establishing this prime area of bonobo habitat as a community forest. To date, we have secured accords with local communities and are now focusing on pursuing approvals at the provincial level. We are seeking further support to conduct expanded biological surveys, zoning and demarcation activities that are required to establish a protected area. At the same time, we are working with our local partners to advance community livelihood and education programs to benefit the people and sustain the entire ecosystem.

The urgency of protecting forests like those of Lilungu was underscored in a recent article in the journal Science Advances by Alejandro Estrada (Institute of Biology at the National Autonomous University of Mexico) and co-authors. A survey of scientific data of non-human primates and the threats facing them showed that approximately 60% of primate species are headed for extinction. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is considered a high priority area for primate conservation, as it is one of four countries that together harbor two thirds of the world’s primate species. These species—including bonobos—continue to be under immediate threat from habitat destruction, hunting, human encroachment, and climate change. The authors conclude that the most effective path to preserving primate biodiversity is through the development of conservation programs that are based on mutually beneficial partnerships between local communities and government—exactly the kind of cooperative conservation that BCI and partners have championed for the last two decades.

Continued support for our tracking teams—from donors like you—has been instrumental in not only protecting bonobos, but in maintaining the enthusiasm for the communities of Lilungu to work with us to protect their forests—and all of the species within. As always, thank you for standing with us…and please help BCI and our partners by spreading the word about our work.

Part of our Lilungu team
Part of our Lilungu team


Oct 26, 2016

Sharing the Love

Our last reports have been updating you on our research program and the two bonobo groups being studied at the Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve. But, did you know that we are actually monitoring a total of four bonobo groups?  The teams monitoring the other groups (Bekako and Nsondo) have been benefitting from the presence of the researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI), even though they aren't directly involved in the studies so far. The monitoring team leaders have benefitted from working with MPI and some trackers have received updated training in the use of GPS, to improve the data that they are collecting on these groups. This is of particular importance to the Bekako team, as this group has been observed interacting with the research groups (Ekalakala and Nkokoalongo). That makes three groups coming together…another exciting development and great opportunity for understanding bonobo behavior!

By generously sharing their time with our other tracking teams, the MPI researchers are helping to enhance the ability of our partners to monitor and protect the bonobo communities in their forests. And, through the generosity of donors like you, we have been able to sustain and equip these teams.

Speaking of sharing and generosity, as we enter year end fundraising season, GlobalGiving has partnered with an anonymous donor to provide some exciting campaigns, including:

  • On #GivingTuesday (November 29th), all processing fees will be covered by this donor.
  • Any new recurring donations made between #GivingTuesday and December 31st, will be matched at 100% on the fourth month.

These campaigns will help your donation have even more of an impact! As always, thank you for standing with us…and please help us share the love by spreading the word about our work.

Jul 27, 2016

Bonobo Girl Power

Female bonobos from the Ekalakala group
Female bonobos from the Ekalakala group

Over the last few months, our research team at Kokolopori has been busy studying two habituated bonobo groups. Conducted under the supervision of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, the project aims to document group composition, feeding ecology and behavior of the Nkokoalong and Ekalakala bonobos.

Led by Dr. Martin Surbeck, the team, which includes seven of the best trackers at Kokolopori, has been working hard to identify the bonobos in the two groups, assigning each one a name. They are also being creative with their naming conventions: musician names for members of the Nkokoalongo group and colors for Ekalakala. Among the notables are: Bowie, Marley, Papa Wemba, and Madonna!

The project is already producing some intriguing glimpses into the lives of wild bonobos, while confirming behaviors observed by other researchers. The groups have been moving through the forest and nesting near each other for the last couple of weeks, providing ample opportunity for our researchers to observe how two groups interact. Just last week, the team noted that a female from each group has switched to the opposite group.

Migration between groups is common once female bonobos reach adolescence. A recently published long-term study of bonobos at neighboring Wamba may provide insight into how female bonobo behavior facilitates this phenomenon. Nahoko Tokuyama and Takeshi Furuichi of Kyoto University found that older female bonobos will help younger, unrelated females who are being aggressively targeted by males. This protective behavior presumably allows new, younger females to join a group without the threat of being bullied by the male members. They hypothesize that this behavior also helps to form bonobos’ matriarchal social structure.

Our research program is already giving us insight into bonobo group dynamics and female alliances. We are excited about its potential to contribute to the broader scientific and conservation communities. Your support makes this work, and more, possible. As always, thank you for standing with us!

Members of our research team
Members of our research team


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