The catchments area of the Congo river is the second largest primary forest in the world.   It covers over 200.000.000 acres, of which 87 % is considered to be virgin, with an annual rate of deforestation estimated at 0.2 %.

The natural habitat of the bonobos was long protected by the inaccessibility of the forest. The poor socio-economic conditions of the population in the buffer zones and the lack of control over  logging companies in the region have however led to a dramatic increase in organized bush meat trade.



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"For example, a 1998 expedition in Lomako region by Karl Ammann, a journalist dedicated to environmental protection and advisor to A.A.C, as proved beyond doubt that the staff of logging companies was implicated in bush meat trade. With assistance of the local population and thanks to the installation of the companies, they practice large scale bush meat trade, which is a very profitable activity. They use the trucks and the boats of their companies to transport ammunitions in and smoked meat out, thereby transforming traditional hunting into a quasi industrial activity.

Moreover when logging companies leave exploited areas, their staffs often remain in the forest continuing their hunting activities ever further into the forest. 

Women waiting for transport to the nearest market

their piece of choice....... the dead body of a young chimp !

Let's not forget that 

Bonobos are considered an endangered species according to the IUCN Red Data Book and the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service ; it is included in Appendix 1 of CITES, the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species.

The Convention of Washington declared that Bonobos - similarly to Okapis - are among animals facing risk of extinction. D.R Congo ratified this convention in the 1980s

The bonobo population declined from 100.000 individuals in 1980 to a current estimate of less than 10.000 individuals.

In 1980, the bonobos population was estimated at 100.000.

In 1990, scientist were suggesting figures of 

10.000 individuals 

 and that was 10 years ago !

In the meantime, the natural habitat of the bonobos has suffered two wars and years of military occupations.


Poster prévention

  • The A.A.C Association works in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment in the capital city of Kinshasa, to try to enforce the law.
  • The association has also organized advocacy campaigns in the mass media (radio, TV, newspapers) and direct lobbying  activities (workshops with all concerned parties.) but the association does not have the means to organize  national-levels information and advocacy campaigns, which would be so important.
The best way to stop bonobo trade for good is a protection program enlisting everyone's collaboration, including  :
  • The DRC Ministry of Land issues, Environment and Touristic Development ; 
  • loggings companies (which often are the only link between the forest and the cities
  • all non-governmental organizations concerned with environment protection.

The A.A.C association's goal is to make this partnership possible and to spread the bonobo protection message through an educational program, such as its on-going program of Congolese school visits at the nursery-sanctuary in Kinshasa.

This educational program also needs to extended to the forest and transitory areas of the bonobo's natural range (Basankusu, Lomako, Luo ...  in order to revive traditional taboos against bonobo meat trade for the new generations.

It will also be necessary to disseminate new scientific discoveries, which increasingly point to bush-meat as a key vector in the propagation of new and incurable diseases, such as Ebola, due to the violation of the integrity of the primary forest.

An other danger


The last figures on the bonobo population in situ date back to 1990 (see above). The war context does not bode well to the survival of the last bonobos remaining in the forests of Congo. 

Considering the small number of bonobos living in captivity in zoos in the United States, Europe and Japan, the risk of consanguinity is unavoidable.

The genetic inheritance of this unique species is therefore in great danger.

With 20 young and juvenile bonobos, 10 males, 10 females, the A.A.C sanctuary could play an important role in preserving the genetic diversity of bonobos in captivity. 


The last of the Great Apes to have been discovered could well be the first to disappear !