Three Hundred Bonobo Nests Where Forest and Savanna Intermix

A Bongo taking one last look before fleeing rapidly
A bongo in the fore ground and forest in the background

Twelve days walking through forest and savanna and more forest and more savanna. It is a circuit I will never forget. I have always read that forest/savanna borders are particularly rich with species because you get both forest and savanna animals coming together.
Team 2 arrives at savannah
First time on the savanna for many of the porters

This circuit certainly was my best ever for observing animals. In the savannah we saw buffalo, bongo, a jackal, and quite possible a black fronted duiker. Lots of buffalo.

In the forest we saw a dead fully grown male sitatunga (pictured here). It had only recently died. No gun shot wounds so we think it was a snake bite. Blood coming out of its mouth and ears was the only clue. A beautiful huge magnificent beast.

A dead Sitatunga in the Lomami-Lualaba forest

A few monkeys were seen but not many. A few snakes also that caused the usual panic by everybody. But the best by far was Bonobo nests. Over 300!! Four locations were exceptional. One had about 100 in just a few kilometres and another had about 80 over four kms. Never seen places like this before. Salonga national park has no corner of forest this rich with bonobo.
A beautiful old bonobo nest
One of many bonobo nests that we found. This one was old.

Sadly no sign of elephants or okapi. Hunted out?

The downside, this was physically very demanding. Marching 5 hours in burning sunshine across savanna is a killer and then to arrive at the other end into forest and find no water is demoralizing. It is the dry season and most of the rivers have dried up. We ended up drinking red stagnant water from the few pools we found for 4 days and one day of no water! Luckily no one got sick from this. Not sure how. Back in UK, I’m definitely going to visit the doctor! A much needed drink for team 2
A much needed and much appreciated drink on the savanna.

Pigeen pouring out some water from a liane
Getting “water” from a liana for a much needed drink in the forest.

We are all back at the base camp along the Lomami now and it is sort of like a Red Cross camp. A lot of walking wounded, me included. One of my feet is a little swollen with a patch of bites from I think some insect that had a field day when I fell asleep one night in my forest chair (see below).
A forest chair, all the mod cons
Right after this great supper I fell asleep and some creature made his supper of my foot

One of the porters got a cut on his leg, from a liana, just above his foot. His foot has swollen up like a balloon. He has started on an anti-biotic and we are hoping to see a change soon. He probably cannot carry on but his village is 300km away. What do you do?
Team 2 relaxing at the end of the circuit
Weary team at the end of the 12-day forest-savanna exploration circuit

Have just heard from a few locals of a location a few days march from here where there are Bonobo and Okapi. Going to have to go there and check it out. It will also mean that we can check out a bit further south of the rapids where the locals say there are hippos and crocs.

Better put those shoes back on, swollen feet or not…


  1. Posted 2007-08-01 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    Fascinating news about the Bonobo nests in this area… I am looking for a deserved wild Bonobo conservation charity to do some fund-raising for. This seems a possible solution. please get in touch when you;re back from your trip.. or maybe there is someone in admin who could contact me.

  2. Posted 2007-08-02 at 1:49 am | Permalink

    Jimmy: Ashley will be back at the end of this month. I will meet him in Kisangani. We are in the first stage of a three stage project. The exploration phase will last until the end of this year and probably well next year. It gives us distributions of animals. Actual inventories will be more restricted geographically and based on exploration results. Inventories will give us population estimates. The final stage involves community engagement and protected area creation.
    contact me at

  3. michael kramhoeller
    Posted 2007-08-03 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Worrying news about the elephants in DRC. Even in the most remote areas you
    hardly find signs of this animals.

    What can we do?

  4. Terese in Kinshasa
    Posted 2007-08-06 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    True, In an email Ashley sent today he said that although it was ideal habitat the whole area between the Lomami and the Lualaba Rivers seem to be almost without elephants. What this project must do is eventually move to create a protected area in the most promising part of the TL2 (Tshuapa-Lomami-Lualaba). It must be promising for bonobo and elephants. Clearly, though, a major political mobilization to save forest elephants is needed both at the DRCongo level and at the whole central African level.

  5. erik
    Posted 2007-08-08 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    fantastic work! amazing stories!
    tell Chryso he looks good and hello from Erik

  6. michael kramhoeller
    Posted 2007-08-09 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    hello terese

    possibly in the dry season the elephants
    and other animals follow the rain towards the equator, because it seems to be very dry in the south of TL2(in the dry season).

  7. Helen
    Posted 2007-08-10 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    am anxiously awaiting another post!!!

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