A bonobo in a zoo. (Flickr image) Good photos in the forest are still a rarity. Note the black face…different from a chimpanzee.
When I started to write this post, I knew it would be pretty humiliating !
Ok, so I have worked out here in the DR Congo, in Salonga National Park (see some nice photos of the park from a former colleague), for 18 months before starting on this new project and yes you guessed it I had never seen a Bonobo in the wild. In fact I still have never seen one in captivity as I am not a big fan of zoos. But this week I saw bonobo. And in the wild too! So I manage to save face!
Previously, the closest I had come is branches bobbing wildly and dark blurs about 15 meters over my head, along with the racket of a rapid bonobo retreat. I could pretend that I saw something, but no it was mainly waving leaves. But the sound! Bonobo cries are a forest sound not easy to forget.
My feeble defence was always: For the conservation of Bonobos it is not important to see any of them, it is important to know they are there and also to know what threatens them. In Salonga that I definitely learned. I have seen tens, no hundreds of nests, what they throw to the ground and evidence of their eating. What I really saw a lot of in Salonga, was evidence of hunting: snare traps and shotgun shells. Scary really.
So there you have it. Almost humiliated and just for a blog, but then I saw the prize! But there always is some humiliation: I’m sitting here getting covered with ants just when I risked feeling proud of myself !
Read more on the bonobo in Wikipedia. And an interesting blog post about what inventory work is from my former colleague, Kim Gjerstad. I also update my photos once in a while, so check out my Flickr account.