News – January, February and March 2016

April 17, 2016

News from Lola ya Bonobo


Rescue of BIKORO

The very last day of 2015, Bikoro, a 3-year old orphan, rescued in Equateur Province in collaboration with Bonobo Conservation Initiative, arrived at Lola ya Bonobo. Our team at Ekolo ya Bonobo had learned that a small bonobo had been seen in Bikoro town and had contacted BCI staff based there to help us repatriate it to the sanctuary. Bikoro arrived at Lola on December 31. Thanks to veterinary care and the attentive care of his surrogate mother, Carive, Bikoro recovered well and joined the other bonobos in the nursery after his quarantine period. He remains deeply attached to Carive and seldom leaves her.



Transfer of the juvenile nursery’s bonobos into enclosures 1 and 2

From December 7, 2015, we started transferring the bonobos, who had been cared for in a separate group of juveniles in the nursery, into the various adult enclosures. Singi, Kinzia and N’Djili were transferred to enclosure 1 at that time: they were welcome by the powerful female alliance of that group and their introduction went smoothly. Boma, Minova and Garamba were transferred into enclosure 2 on January 7, 2016. The process went smoothly – the newly introduced bonobos are sufficiently comfortable to eat and drink among the adults.


Maya gives birth to Ndona, her first daughter

The veterinary team had suspended Maya’s contraceptive treatment in 2015 due to health issues that they thought might be related to the treatment. Maya became pregnant during that period and gave birth on January 13, 2016 to a little female. We called her Ndona, the name given to women traditional leaders in Bas-Congo Province. She is Maya’s first daughter after two sons, Bisengo and Mayele.



The Nursery catches a cold

An epidemic of flu ran through the Nursery in February. As a result, we decided to postpone Bikoro’s transfer from the quarantine to the Nursery for a few weeks, to minimize risks of contagion. The veterinary team managed the situation well and the little bonobos recovered quickly.


Worries about Kananga’s health

On February 2nd, Kananga, an 8-year old female from enclosure 1, started to exhibit coordination and awareness troubles similar to those that Kisantu and Sake suffered before they died in 2015. We took samples for analysis, but the results did not shed light on her condition. We isolated her near the infirmary and gave her the broadest treatment possible. Her condition improved and she was released into the enclosure. However, her condition is again deteriorating, without clear sign of why this is so.


News from Ekolo ya bonobo


Removal of two GPS collars

As part of GPS collar testing, last August our team placed Followit or Biotrack GPS collars on four of the released bonobos (two each), to compare the efficacy, durability and ease of placement and removal of the two brands. While the Followit collars’ light weight was attractive, it was the first time that they were tested on great apes.  Based on recommendations from the vendor, we had programmed these collars to automatically “break-off” after six months, before their battery died (which would have made it impossible to retrieve them). Raphael Belais traveled to Ekolo ya Bonobo in February to assist the trackers with the recovery of the GPS collars. The break-off mechanism on Lukaya’s collar functioned as planned: the collar fell and the team was able to recover it quickly using a hand-held radio antenna. However, the break-off mechanism on Sankuru’s collar failed and Raphael had to isolate the female and manually remove the collar. The battery life’s estimates proved correct since a few days later, Sankuru’s collar ceased to emit signals (the other one is still functioning).



Tshilenge may be pregnant

During his visit at Ekolo ya Bonobo, Raphael noted that Tshilenge, a 14 year old female, appears to be pregnant. Based on observations from the trackers and the vet, she is likely in her second trimester.

Soccer uniforms for AS BONOBO team

We received soccer uniforms donated by the French soccer team « Girondins of Bordeaux » for the players of AS Bonobo, their junior team and the team of the local Basankusu soccer school, EFOBA. The local sport authorities were invited to the distribution ceremony and everyone welcomed this gesture of solidarity from the French team. AS Bonobo is proud to have bonobos as their mascot and to raise awareness of bonobo protection at games.




Media and communication


“A season with the bonobos” on French TV

Filmed in October 2015 by Banijay Production, the series of six 45-minute episodes was designed for diffusion on the French TV station aimed at youth (France 4). Filming took a full month, but went well: our team developed a good relationship with the vets from La Fleche zoo in France, whom the young TV audience has been following on TV for four seasons already. The series aired on France 4 over 3 weeks in February and was very well received by the public: over 800,000 people watched the first episode and we noted a ten-fold increase in online donations after the airing. In addition, La Fleche zoo made a significant donation to the sanctuary and offered to set up an educational booth on bonobo protection at the zoo over the summer to collect funds for ABC.