The BCI team has just returned from an exciting visit to the Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve! BCI president, Sally Jewell Coxe, and our field team were accompanied by some special guests—including activist and actress Ashley Judd, filmmaker and co-founder of Nature Needs Half James Brundige, and renowned wildlife photographer Frans Lanting. Before the expedition, BCI and Ashley partnered on a petition to raise global awareness about the importance of protecting bonobos and their rainforest habitat. She is so enthusiastic about our work that she wanted to see it first-hand! Upon her return to the States, Ashley said of her trip to the Congo: “It changed my life.”
During the expedition, the BCI team visited with our community conservation partners within Kokolopori and environs, and we initiated some promising new projects.We met with the Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve Association and other local groups, as well as partners from neighboring sites, to assess progress and confer on future plans. We kicked off an environmental education program that will benefit all schools in the reserve, and beyond—and we laid the groundwork for a far-reaching awareness campaign. A soap-making project was also initiated under the leadership of a local women’s cooperative. Of course, the major focus of the expedition was visiting the bonobo groups being monitored by our dedicated tracking teams. We joined the team from the Max Planck Institute (MPI) and visited the Ekalakala and Nkokoalongo bonobo groups and learned a little bit more about their neighbors, the Bekako group.
The very first day, Ekalakala and Nkokoalongo groups met in the forest, which was super exciting! Stay tuned for more images and footage of the expedition, to be released in the coming months.
We’re happy to report that all members of the Bekako group have been identified and named, thanks to the help of the MPI researchers. While Ekalakala bonobos are named after colors and Nkokoalongo after musicians, the Bekako bonobos are named after rivers. We are in the process of habituating the Bekako group and understanding its ranging patterns, to prepare for future research and ecotourism. We have learned that from time to time, this group interacts with the two groups currently being studied by MPI. In fact, the Bekako bonobos had an encounter with the Nkokoalongo bonobos during our expedition! The team has been working diligently to gain a better understanding of the composition of the Bekako group, nearly half of which are juveniles and infants, which bodes well for the bonobo population of Kokolopori.
Generous support from donors like you has helped to sustain our monitoring teams and conservation programs at Kokolopori. Want to make an even greater difference? This Wednesday is GlobalGiving’s GG Rewards Bonus Day. Starting at 9:00AM EDT (July 18th), GlobalGiving will make available $120,000 in matching funds. Donations will be matched while funds remain, with recurring donations matched 100%!
As always, thank you for standing with us…and please help BCI and our partners by spreading the word about our work!
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