We are thrilled to announce the official accreditation of the Djolu Technical College for Conservation and Rural Development! The decree was issued by the DRC Ministry of Higher Education in recognition of the quality of education provided by the college.
Djolu Technical College is a powerful example of the close relationship that exists between bonobos and their human neighbors. At BCI, our mission is to save bonobos and their natural habitat. This important work cannot be done without the commitment and leadership of those who care most about the Congo rainforest: the Congolese people who live there, too. In Kokolopori, our pilot community-based reserve, residents became very inspired by the bonobos and invested in the fight to save them from extinction. In order to achieve their goals, residents needed an opportunity to receive a comprehensive education in conservation and related fields.
Established by BCI and local partner Vie Sauvage, together with the people of the Djolu territory, the college trains the next generation of Congolese conservation leaders. The only institution of higher learning within a 40,000 square mile region, Djolu Technical College offers courses in natural resource management, sustainable agriculture, and micro-enterprise development.
Beyond the specific courses, Djolu Technical College offers something even greater: a brighter future for the Congo. “Our students are thirsty not only for technical knowledge and management skills, but also for the chance to rebuild hope for the future of their villages, and protect the biodiversity of their rainforest.” –Albert Lokasola, president of Vie Sauvage and co-founder of Djolu Technical College
Graduates of Djolu Technical College are already making a positive and meaningful impact. Beatrice Mpako, the first female graduate (in 2007), is now the Assistant Administrator for the entire Boende district, which is comprised of Djolu and other territories. Others have gone on to work for BCI, other NGOs and enterprises—or have started their own businesses. We are proud of our students and their accomplishments, and we are proud of the Djolu Technical College community for reaching their accreditation goal.
Accreditation is a vital milestone, however the work at Djolu has only just begun. Currently, the passion and dedication to learning at Djolu far outstrip the infrastructure of the school. The community has donated land to expand classroom space and students are pressing bricks themselves as part of a work-study program. Support is needed to update the library, as well as computer and internet facilities. In addition, we are actively seeking partnership with a sister college in the USA or Europe and support to establish an endowment fund for the college.
Please donate today to educate the conservation leaders of tomorrow.
Sending congratulations to the Djolu community, and thanks for your continued support!
Since 2005, BCI and Congolese partner Centre de Recherche en Ecologie et Forestrie (CREF) have been hard at work in Lilungu. Lilungu is a key part of the Bonobo Peace Forest, linking the large nature reserves of Kokolopori to the north and Sankuru to the south. A recent grant from the Great Ape Conservation Fund enabled us to conduct surveys, train and equip trackers and monitoring teams, and improve basic infrastructure. The project achieved significant results, including:
We are also forging a new partnership with Proyecto Gran Simio of Spain (GAP/PGS-España), an organization dedicated to great ape protection. Because Lilungu was initiated as a study site by Spanish scientists (Jordi Sabater Pi and Magdalena Bermejo of the University of Barcelona), we are very happy to be establishing connections with these wonderful collaborators in Spain. In addition to providing project funding, they will be sponsoring the publication of a new children’s book Life Lessons with Kemba, written and illustrated by Celeste Maia, acclaimed artist and GAP/PGS- España Director of International Relations. This delightful tale follows the adventures of a boy and a bonobo who grow up together, and it highlights the urgent need to protect bonobos and their habitat. Proceeds from the book will go toward bonobo conservation efforts.
Raising awareness is a critical part of protecting bonobos in Lilungu and throughout their habitat. We are excited to announce that Voice of America has just produced a special video and radio program about bonobos and their plight. The story features BCI president Sally Coxe and filmmaker Irene Magafan, as well as bonobos in our Kokolopori Reserve and in captivity. Please take a look at the story below!
As always, none of our work would be possible without your support. Thank you for all that you do, and please remember to spread the word!
BCI President Sally Coxe and Executive Director Michael Hurley are currently spending several weeks in the field in the Democratic Republic of Congo. As they travel from site to site, they are inspired daily by the dedication of the trackers and eco-guards who protect the bonobos, as well as the commitment of contributors who make it all possible. Here are some highlights of their itinerary:
Likongo--Sally and Michael recently visited Likongo, a site created by local Congolese residents who were inspired by our Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve. Jean Gaston Ndombasi, leader of local NGO Debut Likongo, has been instrumental in organizing eco-guard and tracker efforts in Likongo. Thanks to his leadership, eighteen Likongo residents are monitoring three bonobo groups. We are very grateful to them, not only because of their excellent work, but also because they have been working for the past two years on a completely volunteer basis.
Mbandaka –BCI is delighted to announce the expansion of conservation efforts in the Bonobo Peace Forest. Sally and Michael will co-lead a meeting with provincial authorities to kick off the new Bonobo Conservation Concession project in cooperation with Conservation International. The project is funded by the Congo Basin Forest Fund / African Development Bank and is the first pilot conservation concession in the DRC, converting unexploited logging concessions to conservation.
Sankuru--At the end of March, BCI will host a historic meeting of more than 100 customary chiefs and notables representing communities involved with our project. BCI is deeply committed to fostering communication and community involvement in conservation, and we believe that this meeting will be a great step forward in our mission to save endangered bonobos.
Bonobos still stand at the brink of extinction, but—by working together—we are making real progress in the fight for their survival. We need your continued support to train and equip the people who are the bonobos’ first line of defense-- the brave and dedicated eco-guards in Likongo, Sankuru, the conservation concessions, and throughout the bonobo range.
Please check our next report for amazing photos from Sally and Michael’s travels!
HELP THE BONOBO PEACE FOREST GROW!
At this season of the year, we are filled with gratitude for the caring and generosity of people like you. Your donations on Global Giving’s Bonus Day (a record-breaking event for us!) and throughout 2011 have enabled BCI to build upon our extraordinary achievements in the Congo rainforest. Thanks to you, our vision for the Bonobo Peace Forest—an integrated chain of community-managed reserves is becoming a reality...
You are a vital partner as we continue our mission in 2012 to protect bonobos, preserve the rainforest, and empower the Congolese people to lead conservation efforts. We’ve made tremendous strides and we need your help now to keep our work going strong!
The progress is encouraging, but the situation for many bonobos remains dire. This year, we performed surveys in two regions, which have shown that in the areas where eco-guards and monitoring teams are active and communities are committed to conservation, the bonobos are thriving. But in areas where such protections do not exist, bonobos are struggling for survival—or have disappeared entirely. We need more eco-guards, more boots on the ground.
See what your donation helps us do!
Click below to view our full-size 2011 interactive progress map. You can scroll over the project sites to see pictures and a short description of our efforts. A PDF version of the map is also available below.
Thank you sincerely for your support. Your donation makes all the difference!
Recently, scientists from the Max Planck Institute conducted an intensive 10-day training program in survey methodology at the Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve. More than thirty people—including local eco-guards, recent graduates from the University of Kisangani and our own Djolu Technical College, and representatives from neighboring Bonobo Peace Forest sites—came from miles around to learn advanced survey and reporting skills.
This training is already being put to excellent use. Working with our local partner Vie Sauvage, we are performing a full survey of the 4875 km2 Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve (now in progress). As we track bonobo ranges and map important sites, we are learning more about bonobo behavior and how we can best protect them—and all of the biodiversity in the forest.
In addition to our growing information about bonobos, we are learning about the other animals that share their Congo Basin rainforest home. These amazing creatures include Congo peacock, bongos, and the rare salongo monkey (Cercopithecus dryas). Our work marks the first time that the salongo monkey has ever been studied!
None of this progress would be possible without the expertise of the Max Planck Institute, the dedication of our trackers in the field, and the generous contributions of supporters like you. Your funds help us equip our trackers and eco-guards with GPS systems, binoculars, stopwatches, and all the necessary equipment to survey and protect this vital part of our world.
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