Here is a photo of Sankuru, a female bonobo at the Ekolo ya Bonobo reintroduction site, with her baby, a little female called Mwinda, which means “Light” in Lingala.
Sankuru has come a long way. She spent the first 7 years of her life in a wooden cage in someone’s yard. She was finally brought to Lola ya Bonobo in June 2009. Today, she is a fine mother.
One week after their cold arrival in Paris, the two men underwent their operation, first step in the six months of reconstructive surgery ahead. The operation went extremely well, for both of them. Now a few weeks later, we are already very pleased with the first results.
Their arrival in Paris must have been quite brutal, it was on the first day of great cold that came down to us from Siberia. But within a few days, the cold didn’t seem to bother them at all (a big thanks goes out to those who donated winter clothes for them). In fact, they were less bothered by the cold than Claudine who was accompanying them, she’d much rather the hot and humid climate of the Congo.
The first week in Paris was a week of discovery for the two men: the beautiful city of Paris, the Eiffel tower, the snow (a phenomenon that they had heard of but none-the-less filled them with wonder!), a first trip on the underground metro… so many novel things to discover. They were both curious and happy about it all! In the first few days, David pointed out the fact that there was not enough greenery in the city, that our trees were ugly and looked dead… indeed, the loss of leaves in winter makes a change from the luxurious forest they are used to!
Two days before entering Professor Laurent Lantieri’s ward at the Georges Pompidou hospital, they celebrated David’s birthday with the ladies of the ABE.
We wish them a fast recovery and courage for the months ahead!
The good news we had been hoping for is now confirmed: David Mokamoa and Victor Likofata, the two trackers most severely wounded in the accident that occurred at EKOLO YA BONOBO last August, will soon be receiving reconstructive facial surgery from renown French surgeon Professor Lantieri in Paris. David and Victor will have to undergo five rounds of surgery over a 6 to 7 month period. The first round is scheduled in early February; Claudine will travel to Paris with the trackers in a few days.
We would like to sincerely thank all of you who have generously responded to the crisis with offers of support and sympathy over the past six months. In France, preparations for receiving the trackers are in full swing: coordination with the hospital, with the specialized guest house where the men will stay in between operations, collection of warm clothes for the winter, donations of air-miles to secure free airfares, general mobilization to keep the trackers company during these long months, and much more.
As a reminder: on August 3rd, 2011, three of the trackers were bitten by the bonobos at the release site, EKOLO YA BONOBO, resulting in serious injuries. The wounded men were immediately flown to Kinshasa, where they were hospitalized at the Medical Center of Kinshasa. Jim Bofey left the clinic in early September; after a few months recovering at LOLA YA BONOBO, he has returned home. Victor and David were more severely wounded: they lost the best part of their nose and several phalanges of various fingers; Victor also lost an ear.
At EKOLO YA BONOBO, the released bonobos are doing fine. Food provisioning has been resumed so that the bonobos can be observed daily without having to track them in the forest. After a two month suspension due to the presidential elections, consultations with relevant stakeholders from the Ministry of Environment and other environmental actors in the Maringa-Lopori-Wamba Landscape resumed this January to decide on the next steps in the release process.
Mathieu, one of our workers at Ekolo ya Bonobo, the ABC’s reintroduction project, passed through at the sanctuary during a short time of convalescence. While he was there he did a presentation for the staff at Lola explaining his work. Mathieu is not only a tracker at Ekolo but also heads up the CDV meetings in 6 villages around the bonobos’ forest reserve. What is the CDV?? Well Village Development Committees: the whole idea is to support the surrounding villages and the populations that we work with, to help them get back on their feet after the many years of war and to become self-sufficient. Mathieu is mediator and presenter at these meetings, the link between the population and the ABC. He also returns to the villages regularly to see the progress in different projects such as schools, agriculture, fishing… etc.
This presentation was very interesting for the “city-dwelling” Lola staff, learning about a whole other aspect of work within the ABC. Their interest was confirmed by the multitude of questions that were fired at Mathieu once he had finished! There was no doubt that each of them where glad and proud to share their knowledge and experiences.
For comparison here is Mathieu hosting the CDV meetings in the villages surrounding the reintroduction site:
Here is beautiful photo of Etumbe and her latest little one, Nsomi, who is now nearly two years old, at the reintroduction site of Ekolo ya Bonobo.
Their hair has grown back well, leading us to believe that the time spent foraging in the forest leaves little time for sessions of hair plucking!
On the 17th of April yet another group of bonobos headed off for the wild! Early in the morning preparations began for the transfer of Tembo, Boyoma, Nioki and her baby boy, Bomengo!
Nioki goes under for the final tests as little Bomengo holds on tight to her.
Everything went well, Nioki was a bit stressed at the airport but the presence of people she knows around her was a great help in keeping her as calm as possible!
Boyoma and keeper Jean-Claude.
Nioki, proud mother, just after Bomengo’s birth.
More news and photos soon!!!
All together to witness the three arrivals first walk into the forest
They have already found the spring… and seem to like it!
A big and special THANK YOU to the WSPA-Africa and USFWS, two of our generous donors, for their support for the ABC’s reintroduction project.
Check out the new skill…
There you go… not so complicated after all is it?
Not bad this new food we find in the forest…
Ok, so me shoots may not be as fat as the others’ but soon enough I’ll learn and blow you all away!
Our three new arrivals out of the enclosure and mingling with the other eight bonobos who have been in Ekolo since June 2009:
Kikongo, Tshilenge, Nsomi and Etumbe
Kikongo would be a great dad if bonobos males invested in their children!!!
Sankuru, as usual, the centre of attention of females and males alike!
So everything went really well, currently Kikongo, Sankuru and Tshilenge are getting used to their new life at Ekolo.
Tshilenge and Kikongo (who has found a new friend in Lukaya), have fallen into the pace of the group. Sankuru still spends a fair bit of time with the trackers but with no physical contact which is really great so soon!
As for their nests… not a problem… they already had the technique down, we can’t say as much for the pulling up of young shoots. They give it all they’ve got and mainly improvise… but never give up! They’ll soon find the right technique!
They are all happy to be together, so much so that we are afraid to say that the plucking of hairs during grooming sessions has started up again!!! Shame… our Ekolo bonobos had become so beautiful!
Leaving Basankusu with the three bonobos…
Arrival at Mombengele and a last effort from our men carrying the heavy cages!!!
We would also like to thank those who helped us on the big day:
The officials from the Congolese Ministry for the Environment, Congolese Air Traffic Control, and workers at N’djili airport, Kinshasa, The air company ‘Air Kasaï’, the local authorities in Basankusu and of course the ABC staff that showed itself truly professional.