Save Endangered Bonobos in the Congo Rainforest

by Bonobo Conservation Initiative
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Save Endangered Bonobos in the Congo Rainforest
Save Endangered Bonobos in the Congo Rainforest
Save Endangered Bonobos in the Congo Rainforest
Save Endangered Bonobos in the Congo Rainforest
Save Endangered Bonobos in the Congo Rainforest
Save Endangered Bonobos in the Congo Rainforest
Save Endangered Bonobos in the Congo Rainforest
Save Endangered Bonobos in the Congo Rainforest
Save Endangered Bonobos in the Congo Rainforest
Save Endangered Bonobos in the Congo Rainforest
Save Endangered Bonobos in the Congo Rainforest
Save Endangered Bonobos in the Congo Rainforest
Save Endangered Bonobos in the Congo Rainforest
Save Endangered Bonobos in the Congo Rainforest
Save Endangered Bonobos in the Congo Rainforest
BCI leads community outreach meeting at Kokolopori
BCI leads community outreach meeting at Kokolopori

As we approach the 53rd Earth Day this week, we are reminded of the role that our work continues to play in protecting bonobos and their habitat:

"For Earth Day 2022, we need to act (boldly), innovate (broadly), and implement (equitably). It’s going to take all of us. All in. Businesses, governments, and citizens — everyone accounted for, and everyone accountable. A partnership for the planet." [earthday.org]

Earlier this year, a team of representatives of BCI and our partner Vie Sauvage spent 15 days visiting and consulting with residents of Kokolopori and Likongo. We are laying the groundwork for securing the longevity and long-term prosperity of the Bonobo Peace Forest via REDD+ funding. An important step in this process is ensuring the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) of local communities involved—enabling those impacted to control the way conservation and development projects are designed, implemented, monitored and evaluated.

The aim of these meetings was to raise awareness on REDD+ and its implications for communities of the Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve and the Likongo community-based reserve project. The outreach team explained to the communities why they needed to learn about REDD+, how they could build on their own experience of interacting with nature and forest resources, how they could responsibly shape the future of their communities and how the issue of forest degradation and related greenhouse gas emissions is a topical issue of the utmost importance for the future of humanity. These concepts were delivered in French, and the local languages of Lingala and Longando.

The workshops drew more than 570 participants from 47 villages, and represented youth, women’s associations, members of administrative councils, and regional and village notables. The outreach team addressed concerns from the community about REDD+ projects and documented the priorities for conservation, livelihood, and sustainable development activities at Kokolopori and Likongo. Most significantly, these meetings confirmed that the communities with which BCI has been working for over two decades remain firmly committed to protecting their irreplaceable forests and the wildlife within.

We would not have been able to reach this point without our generous supporters. As always, thank you for standing with us…and please help BCI and our partners by spreading the word about our mission!

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Eve Bazaiba Masudi, DRC's Vice PM with BCI team
Eve Bazaiba Masudi, DRC's Vice PM with BCI team

We are thrilled to report that, after two years away due to COVID-19 restrictions, BCI President Sally Jewell Coxe made a return trip to Kinshasa! As grateful as we are for all the technologies that keep our global team connected, there's nothing quite like being together in person.

All of our Bonobo Peace Forest programs require the commitment and collaboration of many different people and organizations. While in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sally met with many of BCI's friends and partners, including representatives of Vie Sauvage and Amis de Faune et Flore de Lomela (AFFL)--one of our Sankuru partners--and the ICCN (Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature). Sally and BCI's Dieudonné Mushagalusa had the opportunity to meet with Eve Bazaiba Masudi, DRC's new Vice Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment (pictured above) to discuss the Bonobo Peace Forest and new carbon funding mechanisms. Sally also worked on strategic planning with the BCI Kinshasa staff and field partners, all of whom have been working diligently to keep our conservation efforts going throughout the pandemic.

Big goals like species conservation and rainforest protection are only achieved step by step, conversation by conversation. BCI is founded on the belief that Congolese voices and perspectives must have priority in determining how we protect the Congo Basin and all who live there. The relationships we've built over the last 20+ years have been the key to all we've accomplished, and we're honored to have so many incredible collaborators by our side as we forge the path ahead.

As always, thank you for standing with us!

BCI team and leader of our Sankuru partner, AFFL
BCI team and leader of our Sankuru partner, AFFL
BCI team meets with ICCN
BCI team meets with ICCN
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Dear Friend,

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has sounded the alarm on climate change in its recent report. The message is clear: Climate change is real, it's happening now, and it's caused by humans. As global temperatures rise due to greenhouse gas emissions, sea level will continue to rise, and temperature and precipitation extremes will intensify. But there is hope! If we drastically cut global greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and reach net zero CO2 emissions by the middle of this century, we can halt and possibly reverse the rise in temperatures. 

Approximately 11% of carbon emissions are due to deforestation and forest degradation. BCI and our partners in the bonobo habitat have been creating and implementing solutions to protect forests for over twenty years. The Bonobo Peace Forest encompasses vast areas of irreplaceable rainforest in the Congo Basin. Peace forest communities--through their conservation programs--are protecting their own forests from logging and other harmful activities, helping to keep carbon out of the atmosphere and turn back the tide of climate change. None of this would have been possible without the support of our generous donors.

Building upon this foundation, we have been working to bring greater, sustainable benefits to our partners who perform this valuable work. Through the REDD+ mechanism, our partners will be empowered to continue and expand their conservation, forest management, and community development programs for decades to come. Stay tuned for more developments on this front in the coming months!

As always, thank you for standing with us.

Our partners are protecting valuable rainforest
Our partners are protecting valuable rainforest

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Dear Friend,

Earlier this year, we were reminded of the importance of the “bonobo way” of coordination and cooperation. While our partners at Kokolopori continued to adjust to life during a pandemic, they faced a second outbreak. Two members of the community developed monkeypox, a debilitating and potentially deadly virus in the smallpox family. The urgency to contain the outbreak was heightened as this virus can also spread to bonobos and other non-human primates.

Within a matter of days, BCI and Vie Sauvage were able to coordinate with regional and international health authorities to develop a plan to contain the outbreak. Necessary medicines were procured (thanks to the generosity of our donors) and sent by bushplane to our Bonobo Health Clinic at Kokolopori. Questionnaires and manuals were distributed to the affected areas in order to track infections and stop the spread of the virus. Fortunately, the outbreak was limited to the two initial cases and both individuals are recovering. Without the social capital and community programs that we have developed in the region, the outcome could have been much more dire.

Understanding the interconnectedness of biodiversity loss, habitat destruction, and disease is a key factor in addressing future outbreaks. It will require coordination and support at local, regional, and international levels. Locally, the Bonobo Health Clinic helps to protect our bonobo monitoring teams, as well as their families and community. At the international level, BCI has joined the US Alliance for Wildlife & Health, a collective of wildlife conservation and medical organizations whose aim is to advocate for funding of pandemic prevention, biodiversity conservation, and reduction in trade of wildlife.

Local effort can have global impact, and international support can make a world of difference for small communities. Working together, in all the ways we can, is the best way to create a brighter future for us all.

As always, thank you for standing with us.

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Dear Friend,

We're going to be honest—2020 has been brutal. From a raging pandemic to record-setting storm seasons to political turmoil, this year has brought with it unprecedented challenges. Just as you have found your daily life changed, so have our teams in the Bonobo Peace Forest. They have had to implement new protocols to protect themselves and the bonobos from COVID-19, as well as Ebola. As the global economy reels from the impact of the pandemic, our teams and their communities have found themselves under pressure from reduced funding. Increased economic difficulty has also led to an uptick in bushmeat hunting, making our work to save bonobos all the more urgent.

It's these seasons of challenge that create the opportunity for change. Now is not the time for despair; now is the time for perseverance.

Perseverance is what led to the creation of the Bonobo Peace Forest, a constellation of community-based reserves in the Congo rainforest supported by sustainable development. Perseverance has put nearly nine million acres of rainforest under protection and much more in progress. Perseverance is what has kept BCI going for more than 20 years and will keep us going until our mission is fulfilled: creating a safe haven that protects endangered bonobos, preserves vital rainforest habitat, and supports local leadership. And it's supporters like you who make that perseverance possible.

Thanks to your support, Vie Sauvage, our leading partner in the Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve, won the 2020 UN Equator Prize! For more than 20 years, Vie Sauvage has been doing the hard and necessary work of daily, on-the-ground conservation. The effect of Vie Sauvage’s incredible work extends beyond the borders of the Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve. The success of their integrated, holistic approach has inspired neighboring communities to launch their own conservation initiatives.

Indigenous engagement in conservation is critical to saving our planet. Within the Bonobo Peace Forest, local residents are leading the charge to protect the Congo rainforest, the second largest on Earth. The developing sites will connect with existing reserves, creating a massive, continuous area of protected rainforest. These proposed reserves also link critical habitat corridors, meaning that bonobos and other wildlife can roam freely throughout their range, a huge boon to their survival.

As the year draws to a close, we would like to thank you for stepping up and supporting our work to protect bonobos and their precious habitat in the Congo rainforest. Thank you especially for standing with us during this difficult year. Wishing you a very happy and healthy 2021!

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Organization Information

Bonobo Conservation Initiative

Location: Washington, DC - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @bonobodotorg
Project Leader:
Sally Coxe
Washington, DC United States
$117,520 raised of $150,000 goal
 
2,274 donations
$32,480 to go
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