A Bonobo Video — Please, No More

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.

baby bonobo, mother bushmeat-2
Certainly, this baby no longer lives.

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.

what is smoked out back, rest to market
Round back in the kitchen.

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.

two bonobo and duiker
A “tolekiste” carrying two bonobos to 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.

talking to the local notables
In Kindu, we made a first presentation to authorities of Kailo Territory, Province of Maniema, at the end of February.

Crispin explains to the  deputy
In Kindu, Crispin talks with Deputy Bushiri, a respected chief from Kailo Territory.

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.


  1. Posted 2009-03-04 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for your heroic work – seeing video and images like these are just heartbreaking, but absolutely necessary. Are there plans to follow up with the community?

  2. Terese Hart
    Posted 2009-03-05 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    Actually one of the Chefs de Secteur insisted that we come through with our “film” meaning our little power point. We have to work out carrying a small generator…and some places are not accessible by motorbike. But the logistics are doable and — I think — the main message for us is that locals ARE worried about losing their forest resources to overhunting and want more information and collaboration.

  3. Posted 2009-03-06 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    Good luck with this – it’s very heartening to hear that they’ve asked you for more information and support. If BCTF can be of assistance, please let us know.

  4. Terese Hart
    Posted 2009-03-06 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    Definitely we will come to you for help and pointers. We are just moving into outreach and it is sort of mind boggling how receptive people are but at the same time just how grass-roots we have to reach.

  5. Posted 2009-03-08 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    I’ve seen and played with baby bonobos at the orphanage in Kinshasa, and that little guy is sobbing hard for his mum. Simply heart breaking.

  6. Posted 2009-03-12 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Therese: keep up the amazing work! I found your site by accident, but good to get an update on what you are doing. Jamie Kemsey here. I worked for you and John (through Gottfried and Barbara) in 2004 doing bonobo data during the MIKE census in Salonga. Great to see you guys are still so active and making a difference. I am now nearby again, in Rwanda. After three years in Asia working on orangutan conservation I am now at the International Gorilla Conservation Program (IGCP) in Kigali (our blog just went live this week on the AWF website). I’ve only made it to Goma so far, but perhaps will see you in DRC again some day soon. Thanks again for your amazing work.

  7. Terese Hart
    Posted 2009-03-13 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    Jamie, We are still in the east (Goma, Beni, Ituri) fairly frequently but usually not for too long. IGCP is a great and important program — glad you are working on it.

  8. Terese Hart
    Posted 2009-05-16 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    John is now in Maniema Province. When he is back we will plan to do a post about most recent estimates of bonobo numbers. WCS has just done some inventories to the west of TL2 and we have just finished an area previously un-surveyed in the middle of TL2. But, from what people back from the field say, the news will not be good. Not at all.

  9. reet
    Posted 2010-09-01 at 1:23 am | Permalink

    Can u tell me y there is a market 4 the meat of these creatures?

  10. Terese Hart
    Posted 2010-09-01 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Yes there is a market for the meat of bonobos. An entire smoked bonobo goes for 50 or 60 dollars at the bushmeat market in Kindu, the closest town to where this baby was filmed. We now have pretty good control over the Kindu market — at least for the present, but you can still buy bonobo bushmeat in Kisangani! and chimpanzee bushmeat in Buta. Kisangani is the next market we hope to have an impact on.

  11. Posted 2011-06-17 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    I watched the video above and I noticed some problems with the audio. The small baby ape is squeaking(?) loudly..but I did not see its mouth or chest moving the way they should be if the baby was crying loudly. I beleive you added the soundtrack to elicit even more pity for the animal and by extension your crusade to “save” these aps. If you are going to continue shams like this at least try not to be so sloppy with your audio.

  12. kim
    Posted 2011-06-17 at 5:20 pm | Permalink


    If you knew the Harts and the people on the field, you would know that although they can’t manipulate even a still photograph, but at least they know their jobs well.

    What are their jobs? Animal population surveys and conservation.

  13. Terese Hart
    Posted 2011-06-18 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    Sorry David, That video was taken by one of our team leaders, Crispin Kibambe and was part of a series of many pictures he had from a mission through Kailo. He actually has several videos and many stills of that infant in Tshombe Kilima. If the quality is poor I believe that it is quite possibly due to problems when first taken or my attempt to put it on line. So be it. We will try to do better next time.

  14. Posted 2011-06-25 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    I have worked in the film and video industry for almost thirty years. I am afraid I have to agree with Mr. David Taylor. This really is a poor attempt at audio manipulation. As for the refusal to buy this baby ape Crispins decision is responsible for the death of this animal (if it died at all). If he would have purchased it the baby would have more than likely survived in a Zoo. The other mistake commited by all the Ape saving conservation centers (in my opinion) is why the baby apes are treated exactly like Human infants. These animals are fed Human infant formula, they are diapered in human infant diapers, they are administered medicine at the first sign of any ilness thereby not allowing thier own immune systems to develop. I have done some research on this phenomina and in speaking about this with my circle of friends and acquantances we wonder how these apes can be released back into the wild with no natural survival skills (which were ruined by the treatment of these animals as if they were human infants complete with names). This what what we do with dogs cats and other domesticated pets. We all know how we “humanize” our own pets out of a desire to attribute human characteristics the animals simply do not possess, but in our arrogance as humans we continue to foist this mistaken practice on our pets. Again in my opinion people who run these “sanctuaries” have done the worst thing possible, they have turned these wild animals into pets. These animals in the sanctuaries have been changed from true apes into a species totally dependant on humans for thier survival. I have watched “Orangutan Island” as well as ‘Going Ape (both very slick productions indeed!), and the orangutan infants are made to live in groups which is totally against the solitary nature of the orangutan. These baby animals are raised by human women, medicated and taught “survival skills” by humans who are reaaly inadequete care givers as far as a natural upbringing goes. Then despite the directors claims they are NOT released back into the wild but placed on “managed” Islands near the sanctuary. By managed I mean they are still living in groups and are still fed daily as well as medical intervention when one or more fall ill (as the have no natural immune system. This insane template is being followed by all the sanctuaries. Everyone of these animals should be put back with thier respective and the human interference has to stop if these animals will have a chance to survive free of corruption by humans. Yes I do understand a number of them will die or be killed by the apes themselves but as mother nature intended the strong will survive.

  15. kim
    Posted 2011-06-27 at 12:53 am | Permalink

    Lucy, you can suggest fabrication if you want. We believe in free speech after all.

    Otherwise, I suggest you read more thoroughly the pages of this blog and answer the following questions:

    – is the project’s mission to orphan wild animals?

    – is the project’s mission to create a park?

    – is the project’s mission to concentrate on bonobos?

    Take the time to read, and you might understand that we are far from what you might see featured on Discovery or Animal Planet.

  16. Paul
    Posted 2012-02-06 at 5:46 am | Permalink

    So Lucy you just want the rescue people to walk away from these helpless babies. If their life hadn’t been screwed by so hunter they would be clinging to their mothers nursing still. They are little babies unable to do anything for themselves. They have just seen their mother and possibly their families murdered in front of them. Then ripped off the dead mothers body. Then shoved in a ruck sack for who knows how long. Not getting the breast milk they should be getting every few hours. They are fed what ever crap the hunter happens to have, and little to no water. Then if they live they’ll get stuck in a dirty small cage or chained to a hut. Not getting any good love or contact just getting fed crap and being treated like crap. A baby that is as close as you can get to being a human. The rescue people are doing the best they can with what they have. I’m sure the guy filming this had better things to do than play audio tricks on you and the other haters that feel they are saving the public from this great bonobo audio conspiracy. Bonobos don’t make chimp sounds. They got there own high pitch thing they do. And if you watch it the babys mouth matches up just fine. I don’t need the audio to know this baby is having a real hard time. Diapers are used to make clean up easy. What is easier and safer for all involved. 25 babies crapping all over the place, crawling in it getting it every where, workers having to step in it. Or they crap in a diaper you change it, poop gone.
    Lonna has over 750 orangutan babies down there. I guess she should just let them die and get it over with. No it’s not the same life they would be living, that ended when they tore down the forest for another palm oil plantation. It ended when the hunter shot the mother of a 6 month old helpless baby ape. It’s not the life they would be living, but they get to live and be here for future generations. Plus what kind of hard heart can watch a baby from our closest relatives be put through such torture. So some backwards man can eat bonobo meat so he can be a great man in the sack. And sell it’s helpless child into a hell life I wouldn’t wish on anything in this world. I’m not some bleeding heart cry baby but I do know when something is way wrong in this world. God Bless the Rescuers! Don’t let them get you down.

  17. Rachel Ellen
    Posted 2012-03-21 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

    I think that your Bonobo project is a waste. These animals are being rasied by humans and are affected so. Let the orphans fend for themselves. Introduce them to a natural troop and hope for the best. Why all the special attention to bonobos? Is not any animal as equal as another? Do you eat meat of any kind, have a pet? Then you need to get real. If you all helped humans as much as this ANIMAL maybe the world would be better as well as DRC. We shoot and kill our wild game in our forests here in USA, they deserve the same rights too. The Bonobo is just a forest animal for meat or the pet trade, let them live. Remember, the world doesn’t live like we do or feel as western civilization. Us Americans need to stay out of others business. Get real, a Bonobo is an animal, they make good pets. These pets are well treated by most as your pets are. Again, in the DRC this is a type of pet for them as we have ours. The Lola Ya Scanctuary is just another from of a zoo or captive pets. Just a bigger operation that does nothing but make the ANIMALS more human dependent and friendly. If released after being there they become unafraid of humans and are subject to disease and harm from people. A lot of animals are going extinct, that is natures way. Look at history, many many have gone way before the Bonobo and it will by far not be the last. Get real you animal do gooders, the Bonobo is an incest fucking, bug infested, shit eating ape. Nothing more, so back off. Get a real cause like a human crisis. The DRC is full of them. Bonobos kill, as the Lola Ya found out when the released some a few months ago and the attacked the trackers. Biting of ears, noses, and fingers of three men. So much for helping your so cute little baby almost human animals. They are killers, just a litttle less so than the chimp. They are sick animals needing to fuck and have homosexual sex at the drop of the hat. Who knows who’s baby is by who. It’s nothing but gross out of control sex that is sick. I’ve seen infants fucking adults and vise a versa. Incest is a daily event as well as children by incest. At Lola ya they have to touch and stroke the penis to relax the Bonobo during research to relax them. Same with females. Is this right to practice beastiality? To me bushmeat is a good thing for the locals and either sell the orphans as pets or leave them in the wild to survive or die. I have not mercy for these ape animals and hope they all die at the sanctuary of some human intorducted diesease or illness. Lola Ya is a joke, a pet haven in disguisel.

  18. Judith E. Avery
    Posted 2012-04-16 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    I TOO HAVE RESERVATIONS ABOUT THE APE COSERVATION PROGRAMS. I have been advised to donate to animal rescue funds locally or to ones well known and monitored!

  19. Judith Avery
    Posted 2012-05-30 at 2:08 am | Permalink

    Bonobos are the ugliest creatures I have ever seen! No outright cruelty should be tolerated, but please putting nappies on these things and going to great lengths to care for them is self- absorption. What are you looking for? Big thanks from people who as a rule couldn’t care less? They are bug-ridden,sex driven monstrosities!!!!

  20. Martin
    Posted 2013-06-02 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    I could not agree more to what Rachel Ellen said.
    Bonobos are just the most perverted and degenerate creatures, I have ever seen. If they are extincted this is definitely not a loss. And it is true, even if they share our genetic code to a high percentage, they are still apes , just animals and there are millions of other animals, who suffer more ( for example the chickens that are tortured incredibly until they are dead) not to speak of all the humans ,especially in Congo, who would only dream of having the incredibly pricy food of the stinking boink-monkeys at lola ya bonobo…

  21. Dan Ton
    Posted 2015-02-24 at 5:16 am | Permalink

    Wow I can’t believe I read what I just read. So these Great Apes should be slaughtered and tortured at will because they’re “the ugliest things ever” or whatever other ridiculous reason some others have said. The audio isn’t manipulated , this is how they sound and the terror is in it’s eyes. Bonobos are our closest relatives our DNA is almost identical, do you also choose to see races other than your own as inferior ? Or How about those who have special needs or handicapped in some way , should they be forgotten and left to fend for themselves? Those of you who made these comments here are pitiful , I hope for your own sakes that it is only your age and lack of life experience that drives you to make these despicable , ignorant comments . If you are not children still in school with brains and understanding not yet fully developed then you are very dull and simple adults and I pity you. I am embarrassed for you .

  22. Judith Avery
    Posted 2016-09-12 at 6:11 am | Permalink

    I made 2 comments on this bonobo issue just 4 yrs. ago. They were comments 18 and 19. My feelings are the same,except they are stronger than previously! Please,please look into the plight of the starving,pitiful humans( esp. children ) in Africa ! Look at them real hard Then tell me if some of your ape rescue funds can’t or won’t be used to aid these wretched people !

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  1. […] dwarf chimpanzee which is endemic to Congo. Anyone have any recent estimates of remaning numbers? A Bonobo Video — Please, No More | Searching for Bonobo in Congo On linl above is a video showing a infant found in a small village and which was taken from its […]

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