South of Opala and 40 Feet Over My Head, My First Bonobo

sunrise over Lomami river, 100km south of Opala
Sunrise over the Lomami River.

We are about 100 km south of Opala as the river meanders. Half that much as the crow flies. If you have a satellite image (google earth) and follow the Lomami river south from Opala you will come to the last three tiny villages. They are half hidden by cloud cover. We are in the second one.

And there are monkeys all around. Just cruising around in the morning this is what we saw:

  • -Black Mangabey – both banks of the Lomami. See a photo on Flickr and read a good San Diego Zoo article.
  • -Red Colubus west bank only so far. See Flickr search results for a variety of races.
  • -Red tailed guenon (apparently a hybrid type) both banks. Here’s a good photo of one variety of red-tail on Flickr. Below is a photo of what I saw south of Opala.
  • -And I think it was the Blue monkey that we saw on the east bank.

Monkey, red tailed monkey.  In Lomami -Lualaba forest 150km south of Opala near a small village
Being watched by a red-tailed guenon.

But here is the BIG news. We saw bonobo on the east side of the Lomami. First we heard them, a real racket. We knew right away it was bonobo and not chimp. Very high pitched. So we pulled the pirogue over as quickly as we could. I was sure that they would have fled as we maneuvered in to shore but a mother with her baby and a young “juvenile” were still visible.

They were obviously bonobo with the distinct dark face. I have a few seconds of video of the mom with her baby.

I was ecstatic when we got back to base camp, in fact I don’t even care that I am covered in a ton of red spots. They don’t itch or anything but very odd. The guys think it was from me swimming in the river last night. Probably right…

Our location is good for a base camp. These are the coordinates S01.19230, E024.84041, in case you want to drop in. Actually, here it is in Google Maps.

It is a really good location but unfortunately there are absolutely millions of bees. So you probably don’t really want to drop in. The bees make it very hard to do anything. A nightmare in fact. So we might have to move on, or it could be just the season. I have to type this in my tent.

And we don’t get good satellite connection here so, to send this, I will have to paddle out to the middle of the Lomami.

Ashley connected from the middle of the Lomami River with a Bgan (behind the laptop).


  1. Faye
    Posted 2007-06-26 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

    I was not too familiar with the Bonobo species until I saw a clip on a video game forum of Kanzi (the famous Bonobo in America) playing Pac Man (he was very good and VERY intense, by the way).

    Too bad you only got a few seconds of video, I would like to see them in the wild.

    Thanks for the updates.

  2. Terese in Kinshasa
    Posted 2007-06-27 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Hopefully there will be more video and more photos by the time the exploration is done…probably by the end of the year. Then we will make the teams bigger and start more detailed inventory in the forests.
    There are a couple groups of Bonobo in semi-captivity in Kinshasa. They were all rescued from captivity. Fascinating to watch them.
    Ashley is off on a circuit now.

  3. Faye
    Posted 2007-06-29 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Hi Terese, I will definitely check the blog near the end of the year for video and photos.

  4. Florence
    Posted 2012-07-07 at 3:07 am | Permalink

    Terese and John You both are doing such wonderful things, your selfless and courageous! Thanks for everything your doing for animals your both an inspiration!

One Trackback

  1. […] In fact I have still never seen one in captivity  as I am not a big fan of zoos. But this week I saw bonobo. And in the wild […]

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *