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Endangered Great Ape Finds Safe Haven
Date:5/26/2009

New rainforest reserve protects more than 1,000 bonobos and benefits local communities

KINSHASA, DRC, May 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Bonobo Conservation Initiative (BCI) joins the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in announcing the official establishment of the Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve, a community-managed protected area which harbors one of the largest known wild populations of the endangered bonobo. The Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve is the pilot and model site for the Bonobo Peace Forest, a proposed constellation of community-based nature reserves supported by sustainable development.

Larger than the state of Rhode Island, the 1,847 mi2 (4,875 km2) rainforest reserve delivers essential ecosystem services to the world, including biodiversity protection and carbon sequestration, and benefits the local people through training, employment and community development programs. These include sustainable agriculture, a health clinic, aid for local schools, a women's microcredit program and the first institute of higher learning in the region, the Djolu Technical College for Rural Development and Conservation, established in tandem with the reserve.

"The Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve is a milestone for the protection of bonobos and their precious habitat in the Congo Basin," says Sally Jewell Coxe, president and co-founder of BCI. "What began as a grassroots, community initiative now exemplifies a new model for conservation that is proving to be effective and sustainable."

In danger of extinction, bonobos (Pan paniscus) were the last great ape to be discovered and are the least known great ape species. Found only in the DRC, bonobos inhabit the heart of Africa's Congo Basin--the world's second largest rainforest--which is increasingly threatened by industrial logging, commercial bushmeat hunting and agricultural encroachment. Bonobos are known for their peaceful, coope
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SOURCE Bonobo Conservation Initiative
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