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.