A Year of Progress & Partnership
Dear Friends,
When the Bonobo Conservation Initiative was founded 25 years ago, we started with a small group of motivated people, an even smaller budget ($200, to be exact!) and one very big idea: protecting bonobos and their rainforest home.

The obstacles were—and are—enormous. Bonobos live deep in the Congo rainforest, making them difficult to track and study. Unfortunately, their remoteness doesn’t protect them from the ravages of hunting and deforestation, the main threats to their survival. The Congo War—the deadliest conflict since WWII—also devastated the region, demolishing infrastructure and tearing communities apart.

It was in the shadow of the war that BCI began our work in the field. We worked in partnership with local communities to establish a new paradigm of conservation, one that helped bonobos, people, and the forest simultaneously. With our partners, we created the Bonobo Peace Forest. The name was chosen to give people hope after conflict, to promote our shared vision of a peaceful and prosperous region, and to celebrate the cooperative, loving nature of the bonobos.
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The next generation of Congolese conservationists!
25 Years and Going Strong!
Twenty-five years later, so much has changed! Your support enabled us to establish the Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve and the Sankuru Nature Reserve, two official protected areas spanning nine million acres. With your help, we have initiated livelihood programs, trained field teams to monitor and protect bonobos, and created lasting partnerships. The Bonobo Peace Forest has become self-replicating, inspiring surrounding communities to protect their own forests and the bonobos within. It is truly astounding what we’ve been able to accomplish together.

One thing hasn’t changed: the bonobos still need your help. The Bonobo Peace Forest has grown, but so have the threats. Bonobos remain endangered, inching ever closer to extinction, while deforestation in the Congo basin brings our planet closer to the brink of climate catastrophe. We have been working
harder than ever to meet these challenges and to find a path to a future where bonobos and their
human neighbors can thrive.
A Year of Progress & Partnership
Here’s some of what your support has made possible in 2023:
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Sustainable Funding
BCI is actively developing REDD+ (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) carbon credit financing to secure steady, sustainable income that will directly benefit local communities and ensure that the Bonobo Peace Forest will thrive for generations. We are thrilled to announce that we are collaborating with Integrity Global Partners as we move forward with the validation process, adhering to the highest standards.

Pictured above: The women’s association of Lomela is ready for REDD+.
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Sankuru and Kokolopori
In partnership with Congolese NGO AMAR (Action Massive Rurale), we've consulted every single village throughout both reserves—more than 400 total! We completed socioeconomic impact assessments, participatory mapping, and set up local development committees as we prepare to implement REDD+ and scale up wildlife protection.

Pictured above: BCI team geared up and ready to accompany REDD+ project auditiors to the forests of Sankuru.
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Groundbreaking research
Our ongoing collaboration with Harvard researchers has yielded amazing results! Scientists discovered that the Kokolopori bonobos cooperate not only within their own groups but also between groups, sharing food, grooming each other, and forming alliances. Understanding bonobo social openness can help us gain insight into the origins of cooperation among humans. Bonobos show us that peace is possible! The study was published in Science and featured on the front page of the New York Times.

Pictured above: The Kokoalongo and Ekalakala bonobos have a peaceful encounter in the Yetee Forest.
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Thanks to support from The Nature Conservancy, we are in high gear to officially protect the Lilungu forest! Lilungu covers more than 1.2 million acres and links a critical habitat corridor in the Peace Forest. We’ve conducted intensive tracker training, learned more about the composition of bonobo groups, and are currently constructing a new conservation center.

Pictured above: Tracking bonobos often involves navigating tricky terrain.
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The communities of Likongo, Lingomo, and Nkokolombo mapped their adjoining forests, a
critical step on the path to official protection. Now, neighboring communities wish to join the Peace Forest as we continue to broaden our conservation programs.

Pictured above: Roger Afelende, community conservation leader of Nkokolombo, seeks official protection for his forest.
  • 2023 Slideshow
    Enjoy a slideshow of this year's activities in the Bonobo Peace Forest!

Investing in a Brighter Future
We look forward to a big year ahead with exciting projects throughout the Bonobo Peace Forest! With your support, we plan to expand monitoring teams, conduct new biodiversity surveys, launch sustainable agriculture programs, and much more! We will redouble our efforts to raise awareness about bonobos and the urgent need to protect them.

Twenty-five years may seem like a long time, but in many ways, it’s just the beginning!

Please join us in fulfilling the promise of the Bonobo Peace Forest. Show your support for bonobos by donating at Your partnership makes all the difference.

With deepest gratitude,

Sally Jewell Coxe