FROM THE ARCHIVES: In the summer of 2008, Claudine André, founder of the sanctuary, was preparing for the world's first release of bonobos back to the wild. She was negotiating with the Ilonga Mpôo tribe to secure long-term protection for bonobos and bonobo habitat. She was offering educational materials, health care, and other support, and in exchange, they would agree to protect bonobos on their sacred lands. The first few times Claudine and her team traveled from Kinshasa to Basankusu they ran into some trouble. In the following letter (slightly edited) she shares her excitement as they board their plane.
"This time, it’s no longer just a dream: we're setting off! Finally! Pierrot and I had to be
seated and buckled up in the plane before we really believed it! Keep in mind, we'd already had to endure three failed attempts, one of which we abandoned during the final phase (our bags had even been registered). The crisis and rising fuel prices in the DRC greatly reduced our number of fellow passengers able to pay the $840 dollars for a round-trip ticket from Kinshasa to Basankusu!