We are happy to announce that the newest member of our bonobo family arrived safely at Lola ya Bonobo sanctuary this past week! Meet Loto, a sweet young female rescued from the Sankuru Province.
In late October 2020, this little girl was discovered with another orphan bonobo near the town of Loto. After we received a tip about two bonobo babies in danger, our partner in the field, Héretier Mpo, was able to respond quickly to locate the babies and bring them to safety. Héretier delivered the babies to Lodja, where they could be cared for until the next leg of the journey to the sanctuary could be arranged.
In Lodja, the two little girls were cared for by our team member and surrogate mother Mama Elondo (pictured left). In the photograph, Loto is the larger bonobo on the right.
After a long wait in Lodja, we were finally able to arrange for Loto to come to the sanctuary. Our head veterinarian, Dr. Jonas Mukamba, picked her up at the airport this past week, and reports that she was nervous but in good spirits. The video below shows her munching on some snacks on the way home from the airport. We're happy to report that she has a good appetite. Bananas are her favorite!
We are heartbroken to report that Loto's companion, the other orphaned bonobo, passed away from health complications before she made it to Lola ya Bonobo. The trauma of losing her mother proved too much for the baby girl, and we mourn her loss even as we welcome Loto.
Loto was the 12th orphan rescue of 2020. To put that number in perspective, there were more rescues in 2020 than the previous five years combined. We are happy when we can help orphans, but the increase in rescues is also disheartening. It means the problem of illegal poaching in DRC is not improving, at least not in Sankuru.
Officials from Sankuru visited Lola ya Bonobo sanctuary recently to discuss the rise in poaching. Following his visit, the governor of Sankuru announced he is aligned with our mission and committed to promoting ecotourism and protecting bonobos. In order to solve the bonobo crisis, we will need help from people in all corners, from government officials in the DRC, to you, reader of this blog post. Thank you for your support - we couldn't do it without you!