The pictures and video in this post are distressing. Feel free to skip them but please read the message. Thanks.
This baby bonobo had been an orphan for two days when Crispin took this video.
Crispin arrived in the village of Tshombe Kilima, a day’s motorbike ride northwest of Kindu, to find this infant bonobo, two days orphaned from its mother. The hunter, a 25 year-old man, kept it at his house. He hoped Crispin would buy it for the white people. Crispin did not. We cannot risk creating a demand for bonobo infants, nor do we have the authority to confiscate.
The picture and video were taken two weeks ago. I am posting them to remind us of what we have to do.
So what can we do? If the current laws of D.R.Congo were known and applied, this scene would not exist. It is illegal to kill bonobos.
The hands and feet of the mother will be eaten at home. The main body was smoked to be carried by bicycle to the Kindu market.
Along the road to Tshombe Kilima Crispin passed many, many purveyors of bushmeat including this man with two bonobos, lightly smoked and cut for market. The “tolekiste” paid 25,000 FC (about $30 or $35) for an entire bonobo on the west bank of the Lomami near Olangati. Each will be resold in Kindu at about twice the price.
So what can be done? Lobby for a national park is the first impulse, but if created without adequate local support, or too quickly, a protected area can cause more harm than good. Eventually,yes, we hope so, but not yet.
We can, however, make the laws about protected species widely known. We can provide information to help enforcement.
We have started talking to the authorities of the territory of Kailo, from whence most of the bonobo bushmeat comes, an area that is part of TL2. Some of these authorities are held in high esteem and have a good deal of local power. They are supportive, it is a first step.