26/08/2012 by etiennefish
So recently I was in Kinshasa for a workshop, in which we didn’t get a lot of time off to see the city unless you counted the restaurants in which we ate, so the last Sunday I was there, a couple friends and I decided we couldn’t leave without doing SOMETHING just for fun.
A colleague told us about the Lola ya Bonobo, a bonobo sanctuary a little ways outside of town. I definitely recommend visiting here if you get a chance. As I spent a lot time studying primates in university, I may have geeked out a little bit on the visit, which is almost embarrassing, but yeah it’s definitely a place to check out.
After our trip, I talked with some other friends who have been, and they said that unlike us, they didn’t see that many bonobos when they went. From what we were told by the guides spread throughout the reserve, I think we managed to see most of them. Apparently, during the dry season, the primary forest in the reserve (the only of its kind in the world I was told), doesn’t provide enough food to support the bonobos, so they supplement their diet. We happened to arrive just at the right time (maybe around 10ish), to see them emerge from the forest to get their treats and hang out for awhile. Around midday they started trekking back inside.
Unfortunately, in terms of photography, the fence between us and the bonobos meant that a lot of my shots were marred by chain-link (and I don’t really have the time to try and photoshop it out), so you’ll have to excuse that, however, it was really great to see such amazing creatures that are our closest living relatives (98.7% shared DNA). They only live in the DRC, so not many people ever get the chance to see them up close, not to mention the fact that they are in extreme danger of dying out due to habitat loss, the instability of the country in terms of conflict, and their being sold as meat or pets on the black-market. It really was a special experience, and I’ll let some of the photos I took speak for themselves.