We hope this update finds you well amidst this continuing pandemic. It is inspiring to see so many people pitching in and doing their part to keep their communities safe. Like everyone else, our team and partners in the Congo have also had to adapt to new circumstances to ensure their safety—international borders have been closed, regional quarantines are in place, and internal travel is limited.
We are helping our field teams to protect bonobos and themselves against the new threat of COVID-19. Because of our genetic similarity, it is likely that bonobos and other great apes can contract the virus, and bonobos are particularly susceptible to human respiratory illnesses. That is why our trackers were wearing masks well before the pandemic originated. Education about hygiene, physical distancing, along with taking special precautions in accordance with guidelines set forth by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Primate Specialist Group are crucial in ensuring the health of both people and bonobos. We have been working to get this information to our partners on the ground, and are raising funds to purchase key items like soap, medical supplies, and facemasks.
Bushmeat hunting, however, remains the greatest threat to bonobos. Our work with local indigenous communities in the Bonobo Peace Forest is providing livelihood alternatives to hunting. Continued support of our tracking teams, as well as other community programs like agriculture and soap-making, are more vital than ever in protecting our sister species.
As always, thank you for standing with us…and please help BCI and our partners by sharing the news about our mission!