NPR: Education-the Key to Saving Bonobos
In a recent segment on National Public Radio, hosts Rachel Martin and Jon Hamilton bring their audience along for a typical educational program for schoolchildren visiting Lola ya Bonobo, our sanctuary located just outside of Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Hamilton interviews instructor Blaise Mbwaki, veterinarians Jonas Mukamba and Raphael Belais, and founder Claudine André.
A National Treasure of the DR Congo
One of the key strategies at Lola ya Bonobo is to educate Congolese children about the uniqueness and plight of the bonobo - an endangered great ape which is found only in DRC. Lola encourages them to see the species as their national treasure, one that should be treated with empathy and respect.
It's illegal to kill bonobos or keep bonobos as pets in the DRC. Nevertheless, poaching is rampant. All of the bonobos at Lola were orphaned as a result of their families being killed for bushmeat. Claudine André believes efforts to educate children and local communities will help reduce poaching in the future.
However, André says her conservation work is about something larger than just bonobos. "Everything is connected on the planet. So the kids have to understand that it's not only the bonobo. All biodiversity is in danger," she tells Hamilton.
Back to the Wild
Another of Lola's essential programs is releasing bonobos once they have been rehabilitated. They go to Ekolo ya Bonobo Community Forest, a protected reserve in central DRC. This expanse of rainforest provides a forever home to rewilded bonobos, but it is also a safe haven for other forms of biodiversity. Its protected status means the rainforest and its plant and animals will be safe for generations to come.