Fourteen bonobos have been returned to the wild in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for the second time in the history of an endangered great ape species. Bonobo Friends (www.Bonobos.org) from Congo, the conservation organization that operates the world’s only bonobo sanctuary, released the bonobos in March to the Ekolo ya Bonobo Community Reserve, a 120,000-hectare protected area.
Bonobos share 98.7% of our DNA and are the closest great ape relative to humans, along with chimpanzees. They are threatened with extinction due to the trade in wild animal meat and habitat loss. The bonobo group is led by a dominant female – the only ape species with this social structure.
A released bonobo, a former victim of the wildlife trade, is rehabilitated at the Lola ya Bonobo nature reserve near Kinshasa, DRC. The matriarch, Maya, and her three children were among the bonobos who were brought back to life. Maya is the second bonobo rescued by the reserve’s founder Claudine André more than 25 years ago.
“Some of the bonobos I’ve known since I was a kid,” says Fanny Minesi, daughter of André and general director of Friends of Bonobo from Congo/Amis des Bonobos du Congo (ABC). In fact, “Maya’s place is in the forest,” said Minesi. “This is the day we work – for decades – to return bonobos to the wild where they are protected.
“I hope our educational program will help people realize that bonobos are important for forests, important for humans, and we should have a safe place for them,” said Minesi.
The rebirth of the bonobos is the result of years of efforts to repeat the ABC’s first bonobos release in 2009. The group of bonobos released last month have been living since 2018 on Totaka Island, a temporary quarantine site near the nature reserve. Their final step into the reserve was delayed several times due to the Ebola outbreak, technical challenges, and the COVID pandemic.
The bonobo released so far are adapting well, said Suzy Kwetuenda, bonobo health coordinator. One male bonobo named Kubulu left the 2009 group to join a new group. A total of 30 bonobos now live in the reserve. Healthy babies were born in both groups, an indication of successful conservation.
“I hope one day we won’t have to keep bonobos anymore because the bonobo hunting has stopped,” says Cintia Garai, PhD, director of the Ekolo ya Bonobo Community Reserve.
This release is supported by donors worldwide.
Distributed by the APO Group on behalf of Friends of Bonobos.
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About Bonobo Friends from Congo:
Friends of Bonobo rescue and protect bonobos and their rainforest habitat through bonobos rescue, rehabilitation, and reintroduction; partnerships with local communities to address the root causes of hunting and protect rainforests; and educational programs in the DRC and around the world. For more information or to make a donation, please visit www.Bonobos.org.
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Endangered Bonobo Return to the Wild – Second Time in History
Source link Endangered Bonobo Return to the Wild – Second Time in History