PROTECTING BONOBOS — PRESERVING RAINFOREST — EMPOWERING PEOPLE
Bonobo hand gripping branch
Protecting Bonobos
Protecting bonobos is BCI’s primary mission. Bonobos are humankind’s closest relatives, and they are on the brink of extinction. Collaborating with local and international partners, we are providing a safe haven for these amazing primates. We are hard at work expanding the Bonobo Peace Forest, a constellation of linked community-based reserves and conservation concessions. Within the Bonobo Peace Forest, we have many programs promoting the safety and well-being of bonobos:
Tracker in the forest
Field Teams
Effective conservation requires devoted boots-on-the-ground commitment. BCI’s field teams are on the front lines of the fight to save bonobos. They thwart poachers, and they gather critical information about bonobos and their behavior. BCI has trained and equipped over 200 trackers and ecoguards, providing protection for bonobos and economic opportunity for local residents.
Esake, bonobo rescued in 2019
Orphan Rescue
The most heartbreaking consequence of the illegal bushmeat trade is the orphans who are left behind. Too small to be killed for meat, they are put on the black market as pets or they are abandoned, unable to survive alone. For every orphan found, at least one adult bonobo has been killed, and often many more. BCI and partners have rescued more than two dozen orphans, giving them a second chance at life.
Female bonobo with malformed hand due to snaring cradling infant, Kokolopori reserve, Congo DRC
Poaching Prevention
It is illegal to hunt bonobos, but the practice is widespread and ongoing, posing a major threat to bonobo populations. BCI coordinates with local authorities and communities to stop and prevent poaching.
Martin Surbeck with local Bonobo trackers, Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve, Congo DRC
Science and Research
Groundbreaking research is underway to discover more about bonobos. Bonobos’ remote location and small population present challenges to researchers. Our field teams have done outstanding work to habituate groups of bonobos to human presence, allowing scientists to observe them more closely. For more than 15 years, BCI has been working closely with the DRC Ministry of Scientific Research to conduct surveys and build the capacity of Congolese personnel. Now we are partnering with the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and Harvard University to gain greater insight into the incredible and understudied bonobo. The more we know about bonobos, the more we know how to help them.