Sunday, June 21, 2009

Join the Kokolopori-Falls Church Sister City Partnership for Wine and Cheese on July 14th!

The Falls Church, Virginia, and Kokolopori, DRC, Sister City partnership is an innovative community-to-community program, the first of its kind between the US and the DRC. Kokolopori is the site of the Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve. Citizens of Falls Church have provided invaluable support for a micro-credit fund, health clinic, aid for Kokolopori schools, and other important livelihood programs.

You can join the partnership and meet Albert Lokosola, president of the Kokolopori-based partner organization, visiting from the DRC, on July 14 at 7:30 p.m. at Red, White & Bleu on 127 S. Washington St. For $25, you can sample South African wines paired with fine domestic cheeses and converse with Albert Lokasola. Proceeds will benefit programs in Kokolopori. Hurry! Space is limited to the first 40 respondents. Please RSVP to

For more information on the Kokolopori-Falls Church Sister City Partnership, please visit

Monday, June 8, 2009

Rescuing Bonobo Orphans & Combating the Bushmeat Trade

BCI and local partners have been the only or the most visible bonobo conservation entities in-situ across a large section of the bonobo habitat. We have therefore been on the front lines of the bushmeat trade, which has led to saving more than a dozen orphaned bonobos—and in the process, educating and forging partnerships with local and regional authorities, who were previously unaware of national and international laws against hunting bonobos.

Our most recent rescue was a bonobo from Monieka (see photo). A poacher caught her and wanted to sell her as a pet. Luckily, our staff on the ground brought her to safety and we sent her to a sanctuary in Kinshasa.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Inaugural Bonobo Benefit Bar Hop

On May 21st, 2009, "Team Bonobo" put together an Inaugural Bonobo Benefit Bar Hop for BCI. Our event took place in the neighborhood of Adams Morgan in Washington, D.C. at Town Tavern and Madam's Organ. The purpose of the event was to raise awareness and funds through cover charges, raffle drawings, and selling bracelets.

Throughout the evening, attendees enjoyed hearing a presentation about BCI's work, viewing a photo slide show, being entertained by a magician, participating in karaoke, entering a chance to win raffle prizes, and mingling with others interested in bonobos, conservation and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

We are very proud of our first fundraising event and would like to thank all the businesses (see flyer for a list of our sponsors) who donated fantastic prizes to help us raise funds for BCI's work in the Congo.

Thank you to everyone who attended and especially to all the volunteers and interns who helped organized the event! Keep an eye out for our next fundraising event, BBQ for Bonobos, this summer!

Crista Johnson
Development Intern

BCI Establishes New Bonobo Reserve!

BCI with the DRC government announced the official establishment of the Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve, a community-managed protected area which harbors one of the largest known wild populations of the endangered bonobo! The Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve is the pilot and model site for the Bonobo Peace Forest, a proposed constellation of community-based nature reserves supported by sustainable development.

Larger than the state of Rhode Island, the 1,847 mi 2 (4,875 km 2) rainforest reserve delivers essential ecosystem services to the world, including biodiversity protection and carbon sequestration, and benefits the local people through training, employment and community development programs. These include sustainable agriculture, a health clinic, aid for local schools, a women’s microcredit program and the first institute of higher learning in the region, the Djolu Technical College for Rural Development and Conservation, established in tandem with the reserve.

The Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve is vital to research on and protection of bonobos, as it is one of the only sites where wild bonobos are habituated to human presence and can be viewed and studied on a daily basis. Albert Lotana Lokasola, president of the local NGO Vie Sauvage and the initiator of the project, says, “Since the time of our ancestors, our people, the Bongando, have traditionally protected and respected bonobos through taboos, legends and rituals celebrating bonobos as our closest relative and friend. The bonobo saved our ancestors from numerous dangers in the forest. We build on these traditions...We hope that many people will come and visit Kokolopori to enjoy and work with us to strengthen the reserve.”

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Conserving the "Last Great Ape"

Bonobos were the last great ape discovered, and could be the first to go extinct unless concerted action is taken now to protect them and their rainforest home. Threatened by illegal logging and commercial bushmeat hunting, no one knows how many bonobos remain in their natural habitat. Classified as endangered, they have disappeared from some areas and like chimpanzees; bonobo society is "male philopatric," meaning that the females migrate to other groups when they reach puberty. This eliminates the chance of incest and increases genetic diversity. However, the wild bonobo population is so fragmented now, with small groups living in isolated pockets, that the sustainability of the species is severely threatened and this is why it is critical for BCI to establish protected areas and corridors to provide genetic viability of the species.

Bonobos share a human landscape, and our work with indigenous Congolese people is an important aspect of bonobo conservation. In the past few years, BCI survey teams have discovered new bonobo groups in important sites, and together with partners, we are expanding the search.

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Unique Ape of Critical Importance

Bonobos are humankind’s closest primate relatives, along with chimpanzees and share more than 98% of their DNA with humans, yet most people don’t even know that bonobos exist. They are distinguished from chimpanzees by their black face, pink lips, smaller head, brow ridge and ears, long black hair that parts in the middle, thinner neck, longer legs, and shorter arms.

The most unusual and compelling feature of bonobos is their society. In contrast to the competitive, male-dominated culture of chimpanzees, bonobo society is peaceful, matriarchal and more egalitarian. Female bonobos form close bonds and alliances with each other, which is another way they maintain their power among males, who are larger and stronger physically.

Bonobos exhibit care and compassion for each other and habitually engage in a great deal of sexual activity. Sex transcends reproduction in bonobo society, as it does in human society, and serves to promote bonding, reduce tensions and share pleasure.