Today, a tracker got up hours before dawn. Packed a bag with a notebook, pencils, GPS, binoculars, food, water, and other essentials. Strapped on a headlamp and sturdy boots. Walked from camp deep into the forest, wading through rivers, chopping through vines with a machete, avoiding snakes and other dangers. Dismantled a snare and scanned the forest for poachers in hiding.
And that was just the morning commute!
We cannot thank our field teams enough for what they do on a daily basis. Monitoring bonobos, mapping ranges and territory, assisting scientists–not to mention being the first line of defense for bonobos and other wildlife in the forest. They are true conservation heroes!
Three Cheers for Leonard Nkanga!
Today we’d like to highlight our head tracker at Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve, Leonard Nkanga. Leonard is a local Kokolopori community member with boundless knowledge of his native forest. During the Congo War, Leonard voluntarily defended the bonobos when the soldiers swept through the area. He was a founding member of the Congolese NGO Vie Sauvage with Albert Lokasola. When BCI started the Kokolopori tracker program in 2003, Leonard was an obvious choice. He was even given a special ceremony by Albert, BCI representatives, and village chiefs honoring him as “Chevalier de la Forêt,” or Knight of the Forest.
Through a RAPAC (Network of Protected Areas of Central Africa) program, we were able to send Leonard to a high-level tracker training with renowned primatologist Magdalena Bermejo in Congo-Brazzaville. He now oversees all the trackers in Kokolopori, as well as working with the scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology who are studying the bonobos of the Yetee Forest.
According to BCI president Sally Jewell Coxe, “Leonard is smart, totally dedicated, and really understands the bonobos and their movements. He is calm, intelligent, thoughtful and a good leader. And the impact of the trackers, the effect of sustainable employment, the ethic of conservation that they exemplify in their work expands beyond the physical area they cover now, through the whole reserve — and beyond!”
The Other Peace Forest MVP…YOU!
All of the work that Leonard and our trackers do is made possible by supporters like you. Please contribute to our 20/20 campaign to help fully fund our bonobo monitoring program and essential operations in the Congo. Every dollar helps create a brighter future for bonobos and all who share their rainforest habitat. And please spread the word!