R.D. of Congo
Endemic species of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the bonobo lives in the equatorial forests of the country, in a marsh zone located between the Congo river and the rivers Kasaï and Sankuru on the south.

An endangered species

After several decades of war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), bonobos were decimated because of hunting, of the bushmeat trade and of the loss of its habitat, due to an increasing human pressure and an anarchic use of the forest. Today, the bonobo population estimates range between 5,000 and 10,000 subjects, when they were more than a hundred thousand in the 1990’s.

Conservation actions

Since its creation in 1994, the association of Congolese law “Les Amis des Bonobos du Congo” (ABC) carries out a program to protect the species. Today supported by the Beauval Nature association, the program involves receiving, in the heart of the sanctuary Lola Ya Bonobo, some young bonobos whose mothers were victims of poaching. After a stay in this safe haven, the bonobos are reintroduced in a protected area. Since 1994, ABC has received more than 90 bonobos. From 2009, about fifteen were released in Ekolo Ya Bonobo, a reserve specifically created at the centre of the bonobo’s original habitat.

The association ABC organizes visits and other education activities designed for young Kinshasans, for local government officers in charge of enforcing environmental protection laws, and for the villagers living next to the release site. The education programs of ABC have reached more than 50, 000 people in 2011.

To have a lasting effect, the reintroductions are part of a larger conservation program, working to reduce the main risk factors for the species, and including activities to make the local community aware of this problem, anti-poaching patrols and socio-economic micro-projects promoting the local population’s development.

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