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Save Endangered Bonobos in the Congo Rainforest

by Bonobo Conservation Initiative
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

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

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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!

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Recently rescued baby bonobo Esake
Recently rescued baby bonobo Esake

Early last week, our dedicated community partner in the Sankuru province, Héritier Mpo, was informed of an orphan bonobo seized from a bushmeat trafficker in the village of Hiekele. Héritier was dispatched to retrieve the bonobo from the police in this remote village—the same place where he had rescued another bonobo one year ago. The orphan—a female—has been named Esake after the village where she was rescued.

Esake has had a harrowing couple of weeks. We learned that hunters had shot her mother with a poisoned arrow. The hunters tracked the two bonobos for a day and a half before the mother succumbed to a slow and painful death. After being kept by the hunters for five days, Esake was sold to a bushmeat trafficker from the village of Lodja. The trafficker and his bicycle-load of bushmeat were apprehended by police. Héritier was able to negotiate Esake’s release from the police. In the course of transporting the baby bonobo, Héritier had a motorbike accident and suffered an injury to his leg. Fortunately, Esake was unharmed.

Although traumatized and weak, Esake began to regain some strength under Héritier’s care. She readily took to drinking from a bottle and eating fruit. Meanwhile, we coordinated with our friends at Lola Ya Bonobo to make arrangements to transport her to the sanctuary in Kinshasa. We are pleased to report that she arrived in Kinshasa on Tuesday and is now getting adjusted to her new home!

We are fortunate to have successfully saved another bonobo life, even as one was tragically lost. This reminds us of the continuing need for community awareness about conservation, support for our on-the-ground teams, and for economic alternatives to bushmeat hunting. Bonobo rescues are not only dangerous (as it was for Héritier this time), but they are also costly—transportation is difficult and expensive in the DRC. Your generous support helps to sustain our programs and to offset these unplanned expenses.

As always, thank you for standing with us!

P.S. Want to make your donation count even more? Starting this Monday (April 15th) at 9AM Eastern, through Earth Day (April 22), GlobalGiving is launching its Climate Fund Campaign. Donations to our project could help us earn matching funds and bonus prizes!

BCI partner Heritier Mpo with Esake
BCI partner Heritier Mpo with Esake

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Mississippi of the Fekako group
Mississippi of the Fekako group

We are excited to report that a new bonobo group was recently identified in the Yetee forest of the Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve! Members of the group were actually first observed in 2016, but trackers initially thought that the bonobos were members of the Bekako group. When research camp manager Anaïs van Cauwenberghe began tracking and naming the Bekako group, she quickly realized that the individuals in question belonged to a different group altogether. They were jokingly referred to as “fake Bekako” which then was shortened to “Fékako.”

Researchers are still determining the exact composition of the group. Right now, they have positively identified ten individuals: Seine (adult female), Amazonia (adult female) and her female infant Amur, Mississippi (adult female) and her female infant Mia, Maas (young female), and four males named Murray, Oural, Ganges, and Nile. We’ll keep you posted as we learn more about these bonobos--who, like their Bekako counterparts, are being named after rivers-- and their relationships and personalities!

Since last summer, this new group has been observed interacting with the three other bonobo groups in the Yetee forest: Ekalakala, Nkokoalongo, and Bekako. Three group interactions have been thought to be quite rare, so a four group interaction is particularly exciting. These meetings are interesting in and of themselves from a scientific perspective. They also have conservation implications, as they reinforce the importance of connected habitat corridors so that bonobos can range freely and interact. Not only that, they open up another window into the cooperative, collaborative social world of the bonobos. We can’t wait to learn more!

As always, we are so grateful to Dr. Martin Surbeck and his research team from the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology and for the local trackers from Vie Sauvage who trek into the forest daily to gather data and participate in research. We are also grateful to you for making our work possible!

Thank you for standing with us…and please help BCI and our partners by spreading the word about our work!

Murray of the Fekako group
Murray of the Fekako group
Koklopori bonobo. Photo Credit: Roland Hilgartner
Koklopori bonobo. Photo Credit: Roland Hilgartner

As we hear more and more about climate change and its devastating impacts, a recent report from the Rights and Resources Initiative offers hope and spotlights the importance of indigenous and local communities in protecting the world’s carbon stores and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The report (A Global Baseline of Carbon Storage in Collective Lands) finds that 17% of the world’s carbon-rich forests are managed by indigenous and local communities, and this is five times greater than previously estimated! It also notes that this number is likely an underestimate, since documentation of forest use and legal protection is lacking in countries like Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (the only country where bonobos are found).

One of the key recommendations of the report is to: 
“Improve and continuously expand Indigenous Peoples’ and local communities’ access to critical knowledge to strengthen their advocacy needs and support the sustainable development and climate resilience of communities.”

At BCI, we are excited to see broader recognition of the approach we take to conservation--and the global impact it has. Our programs are aimed at protecting bonobos and their habitat, while working in partnership with Congolese communities. Together, we have already secured legal protection of 13,650 square miles of Congo rainforest (Kokolopori and Sankuru). And we have the opportunity to secure even more!

Near Kokolopori, four motivated conservationists have been protecting bonobos in their home forests. Jean Gaston Ndombasi (Likongo), Cosmas Bofangi (Lingomo),  Roger Afelende (Nkokolombo), and Albert Alukana (Foret Riche) met with the BCI team on our expedition this summer. They are eager to continue the process of gaining legal protection of their forests and developing conservation programs to benefit their communities, bonobos and other wildlife. Together, we made plans for the next steps in this process--participatory mapping and delimitation of the forests, re-equipping and training monitoring teams, and moving forward with community development programs, such as pisciculture (fish farming). In order to do this, they need continued support for their on-the-ground activities, like bonobo and wildlife monitoring.

BCI is fortunate to work with such motivated local partners and we are proud that we are able to support them, thanks to the generosity of our supporters. As we work together to protect bonobos and their habitat, we are also combating climate change--by keeping vast reserves of greenhouse gases stored in the rainforest.

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

Our partners!
Our partners!

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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
$66,849 raised of $89,700 goal
 
1,377 donations
$22,851 to go
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