A Brighter Future for Bonobos
Dear Friends,

Meet Rose. Like many young adults, Rose loves to travel and meet new friends—so much so that it has been hard to pin her down to a permanent address! This year, we’re happy to report that Rose has chosen her place to settle down and is now a happy mother to her daughter Rubin, born June 20th.

At the Bonobo Conservation Initiative, we are working hard to ensure that Rose and Rubin can live full and happy lives. Each baby bonobo born is a victory, but it is only a beginning. Bonobos face ever-increasing pressure and, as their population dwindles, they face imminent threat of extinction. To keep Rose and Rubin safe from hunters, we must have robust anti-poaching measures and on-the-ground defense. To keep their home safe from destruction, we must fiercely protect the Congo rainforest and all the precious wildlife within. By supporting BCI today, YOU can make a difference to Rose, to Rubin, and to the future generations of our closest primate cousins, the bonobos.
Rose of the Ekalakala group
Home on the (Bonobo) Range
Rose is now a member of the Ekalakala group, one of several groups of bonobos living within the Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve. KBR is the pilot and model—we might even say the heart and soul—of the Bonobo Peace Forest, a constellation of community-based reserves in the Congo rainforest supported by sustainable development.Our integrative approach addresses human needs and conservation needs simultaneously, providing a sustainable alternative to the human activities that drive the widespread deforestation we see today.With nearly nine million acres already under protection and two million more on the way,the growing Peace Forest is a testament to the power of cooperation, communication, and community leadership.
Members of the Nkokolombo community show their support for bonobo conservation; Photo: Frans Lanting
Indigenous Leadership: A Model that WORKS!
For twenty years, BCI has put indigenous leadership at the center of our conservation efforts. In August, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a special report, finding that involvement of indigenous and local communities in land management is essential in effectively adapting to and mitigating climate change—and that improved land management is critical for biodiversity conservation. The Indigenous and Community Response to the finding stated: “Finally, the world’s top scientists recognize what we have always known.” We couldn’t agree more.
H.E. Ambassador Ignace Gata Mavita and BCI President Sally Jewell Coxe enjoying the bonobo gala. Photo: Jordan Chanler-Berat
The Bonobo Peace Forest Officially Endorsed by the DRC Government
The world is waking up to this efficient, effective, and necessary paradigm shift toward community-led conservation.At a United Nations press conference this May, H.E. Ambassador Ignace Gata Mavita, the DRC’s Ambassador to the UN, announced the DRC’s official endorsement of the Bonobo Peace Forest. Actor and activist Ashley Judd followed with a passionate speech about the importance of bonobos. She also delivered a Care2 petition on behalf of bonobos—with over 250,000 signatures!—to the ambassador. A brand new song and video by top Congolese musician Werrason made its debut at the press conference, kicking off the initial phase of our Bonobo SOS campaign aimed at stopping the hunting of bonobos. At a gala celebrating the DRC’s endorsement and BCI’s 20th anniversary, the bonobo cause got a major boost from feminist icon Gloria Steinem. Raising awareness is critical to our mission, and we are so grateful to these supporters and others for helping to shed light on bonobos and the urgent need to protect them.
Local trackers employed by the research project; Photo: Kokolopori Bonobo Research Project
Highlights from the Field
Protecting the bonobos’ future requires ongoing daily work. The Bonobo Peace Forest concept is put into action by the combined efforts of many people, especially those who are on the ground in the DRC. Here are some of the highlights from this year:
  • Research in the Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve continues under the direction of Dr. Martin Surbeck, now working under the auspices of Harvard University.
  • Three baby bonobos were born within the bonobo study groups! The Nkokoalongo group welcomed Enigma and Odios, as the Ekalakala group welcomed Rubin.
  • Dr. Stefano Lucchesi and Dr. Leveda Chang have been analyzing bonobo group encounters and will soon publish their findings. This type of behavioral information is crucial for determining best conservation practices.
  • Our conservation and research programs employed many local trackers, providing income and ongoing training for indigenous communities.
  • Together with private sector partners, we are stepping up efforts to establish ecotourism in the Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve. Stay tuned!
  • BCI Australia provided support for the Lilungu community forest, a stronghold for bonobos which is now in process for official protection.
  • EarthX—the world’s largest Earth Day expo—announced that it will offset its 2020 carbon footprint by investing in the Bonobo Peace Forest!
  • BCI and partners helped rescue two baby bonobos from poachers. The pet trade is an ongoing threat to bonobos, especially since mothers are often killed in order to kidnap the infants.
Foresight is 2020
The statistics are sobering. Fewer than 15,000 bonobos remain in the wild. The Congo rainforest may be completely gone by the year 2100. Left unchanged, this path leads directly to species collapse and cataclysmic climate change.

They say that hindsight is 20/20, and this year we’d like to turn that saying around. By planning ahead, we can change the outcome for bonobos and for ourselves. Let’s dedicate 2020 to envisioning and enacting a path toward a brighter future for bonobos, for their Congo rainforest home, and for all life on Earth.

We can’t do it without you!
Thank you for all you do to help save our sister species and its irreplaceable habitat. Please show your support for bonobos by donating today. Your generous contribution makes all the difference.

With deepest gratitude,

Sally Jewell Coxe

P.S. Protect bonobos all year long by becoming a recurring donor. Your monthly donation will directly support our lifesaving programs in the field. Thank you for your gift!