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Saving the bonobo

Sonia Phalnikar /keSeptember 2, 2014

The DR Congo is the only country where bonobos are found. One project there is helping protect the habitat of the great apes by offering alternative jobs to local communities. In return, they are to stop cutting trees.

Bildergalerie Die süßesten Tiere 2012
Image: dapd

The Ape Whisperer - With bonobos in the Congo

Project goal: reducing destruction of forests in the Congo Basin in order to preserve the habitat of the bonobo or pygmy chimpanzee
Size: around a million hectares of forest stretches around Lake Tumba
Investment: 6.1 million Euros within the framework of Germany’s International Climate Initiative (IKI)

War has devastated several forest areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo, literally emptying them of species. The country's lush green cover is also shrinking due to deforestation, fires and the push for new farming land. Lake Tumba is however trying to reverse the trend and key to its efforts are bonobos, an endangered great ape. So far, the animals were able to survive thanks to the religious beliefs of local inhabitants that prohibited them from hunting the apes. In future, the creatures are meant to help communities earn a livelihood. A group of bonobos has been trained to get used to humans and that could be a first step to future tourism in the area. In return, local communities are also ensuring that the forest in the area is managed sustainably and fighting invasive species. It’s hoped the measures will help rejuvenate the forest around Lake Tumba and turn it into an intact ecosystem once again.

A film by Jürgen Schneider



The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is facing allegations of human rights violations in Asia and Africa. There has been too little oversight of the human rights aspects of some WWF projects, according to an external investigation by consultancy firm Löning – Human Rights & Responsible Business, in May 2019. WWF International has contracted a British law firm to respond to these criticisms.