Bonobo Protection Unit
Bushmeat hunting is a serious threat to bonobo survival. Though it is technically illegal to hunt bonobos, these laws are often overlooked and unenforced. In fact, many Congolese do not even know it is against the law to hunt bonobos—a situation that BCI has worked hard to rectify over the past decade with local law enforcement and national leadership. In response to this dire situation, we are creating the Bonobo Protection Unit, a cooperative effort between BCI and local authorities. Currently, we have more than 250 trackers and eco-guards throughout the Bonobo Peace Forest, monitoring bonobo territory and searching for evidence of poaching. If evidence is found, local authorities are alerted and the poachers can be brought to justice.
In territories where BCI has active field sites, local police and law enforcement are more sensitized to bonobo conservation and more involved in enforcing anti-poaching laws. We have worked extensively with police near our sites in Djolu, Befale, and Sankuru. One of our greatest BPU collaborations to date is with the provincial police in Mbandaka. The Mbandaka police are responsible for the entire Equateur province, an area in the central region of DRC that covers more than 150,000 square miles. Prior to BCI’s arrival, these officers were unaware that it was against the law to hunt or capture bonobos. Since being informed of these laws, they have helped BCI rescue several orphan bonobos. Through these experiences, the Mbandaka police have become more educated about bonobo protection and more motivated to assist with law enforcement.
All bonobo conservationists agree—poaching must be stopped. Please help us put an end to this practice by supporting our efforts to train and educate law enforcement professionals at the provincial and regional levels. By working together, BCI, Congolese law enforcement, and you can make the world a safer place for bonobos.