Lola ya Bonobo is the world’s only organization to rescue, raise, rehabilitate, and if possible, release bonobos orphaned by the illegal wildlife trade.
We are on the front line in the battle to save bonobos in the only country they are found – The Democratic Republic of Congo, where we collaborate with local communities to ensure long-term conservation and mutual support and benefit.
How can humans avoid murder and war? Unlike all other great apes, bonobos don't kill each other. If we could figure out their secret, we might be able to achieve our biggest accomplishment - world peace.
When adults are hunted for meat, infant bonobos are sold as pets. Lola ya Bonobo collaborates with the Congolese Ministry of Environment to confiscate orphaned bonobos illegally traded or kept as pets. The bonobos are then entrusted to Lola ya Bonobo for their rehabilitation, reintroduction to the wild, and in the cases when reintroduction is not possible, for lifetime care.
The orphans who arrive at the rehabilitation center are often in critical condition. They are malnourished and dehydrated, often have wounds from their capture, and may suffer from respiratory infections, parasites, or skin diseases. Our veterinary staff treat their illnesses and injuries and carry out a full health check-up.
Just as crucial as physical treatment is psychological care. The orphan bonobos are often extremely traumatized by the loss of their mothers. Newly arrived infants are given a surrogate human mother who will give them the undivided love and attention they need to survive.
Lola ya Bonobo cares for over 70 bonobos has reintroduced over 30 bonobos back into the wild.
In 2009, we conducted the first-ever release of rehabilitated bonobos. In 2011 we reintroduced two more groups. The release site, Ekolo ya Bonobo, is a 117,400-acre community forest that was officially decreed a Protected Area in April 2019. With 5 babies born since the release, the reintroduction can officially be considered a success.
In 2018, we introduced the second release of a bonobo group back into the wild. These bonobos were successfully released to Totaka Island, a 130-acre island on the Lopori River, located across from Ekolo ya Bonobo, where they will stay quarantined here until their soft release into Ekolo.
As with all wildlife conservation projects, the strong support of the local population is critical to the long-term protection of the released bonobos, their offspring, and their habitat. We support local schools and clinics and help local communities develop alternative livelihood activities that are less dependent on the forest.
Lola ya Bonobo also runs educational programs both in Kinshasa (often the destination of the illegal bushmeat and pet trade) and in the bonobo habitat (the source of the trade). Our approach combines direct observation of bonobos at the rehabilitation center and at the release site, and more in-depth conservation education activities in schools and communities.
Lola ya Bonobo rehabilitation center plays a critical role in educating tens of thousands Congolese youth and adults each year on environmental conservation. The rescued orphans serve as ambassadors for the protection of bonobos in the wild. Thousands more fishermen, their families and other villagers learn about bonobos from our team as they pass by the release site on their canoes. In both locations, observing bonobos from up close in a natural environment is often a life changing experience.
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