Protecting wild bonobos in the buffer zone of Salonga National Park by long-term monitoring

Salonga National Park (SNP) is one of the four key areas that were identified as priority sites for bonobo conservation. For this, bonobos living within SNP and its surroundings must be protected from hunting and other forms of human encroachment. Besides law enforcement, long-term field research has been identified as particularly successful in protecting apes on a population level. One project with a long-term commitment to research and conservation of bonobos, is the LuiKotale Bonobo Project (LKBP). The field site was established in February 2002 in collaboration with one village, Lompole, providing an area of approximately 100km² of local forest, abstaining from hunting and snaring. Ever since, teams of research staff and local assistants are present. In 2011, the second community, was started to be habituated. In 2016, the project was able to incorporate the neighbouring village, Bekombo, in the conservation management and start habituation of the 3rd community in the freshly acquired forest. To promote this relevant conservation work, Bonobo Alive e.V. was founded in 2011. With help of donations from Zoos, private people, and income generated from leading funding organisations financing science and conservation, the project succeeded in creating a well-protected area currently covering about 200km² of pristine lowland rainforest with an intact ecological web. Here, the changing teams of student volunteers and researchers acquire insight into a larger network of interacting bonobo communities. The project integrates an increasing number of local people into the accompanying conservation measures, becoming multipliers in the region. In combination, the LKBP and Bonobo Alive have been able to promote field research, biomonitoring programs and other conservation initiatives with the result that the local protection status of wild bonobos and other endangered species has considerably improved.

Bearcat Study Program in Palawan Island

Until now, very little research has been undertaken on the bearcat. Most of today available data on the bearcat has been collected from captive animals whose behaviour differs from the behaviour of the ones that may be observed in the wild. Thus, we do lack knowledge on bearcat behaviour in the wild, especially regarding reproduction, raising the youth, interactions between individuals, food habits, moving patterns… Without this knowledge, we cannot develop correctly a conservation program adapted to the ecology and biology needs of the bearcat.
The Bearcat Study Program in Palawan Island is a conservation program with the aims to improve the knowledges on the bearcat in various areas (reproduction, raising the youth, interactions between individuals, food habits), to update its IUCN status in case of need using the data collected from the field, and to sensitize (by sharing the collected data) the Island residents with the collaboration of the local authorities.
From February to December 2017 : improving the knowledge on the bearcat with camera trapping using tree-climbing method. 10 cameras-traps have been set up on the tree tops (between 10 and 30 meters high) in the barangay of Langogan. Every two weeks, memory cards and batteries are replaced by two local guides employed by ABConservation. The collect and data process is maked by the scientific officer in June and December 2017.From February to April 2019: improving the knowledge on the bearcat with radiotracking
• capture of wild binturongs by means of cage-traps with live baits Marking of the wild animal captured (census)
• Taking hair samples for future genetic surveys
• Taking body measurements (height and weight)
• Equipping the binturongs with a radio-collar before their release
• From February 2018 to April 2019: radio-tracking binturongs
• Collecting of data by GPS and VHF
• 2018-2019: treatment of data by the scientific officer

Support of gorilla conservation

We focus on the survival of gorilla populations that are particularly at risk. However, the gorillas’ survival can only be ensured in the long-term if we succeed in finding a balance between the needs of the human population and the required nature conservation measures. Key ways to achieve this are:
• To support the people who are employed by national authorities to protect the gorillas and their forests.
• To raise awareness and provide support to the people who live in gorilla areas – the gorillas would not survive without their cooperation and help.
• To give direct aid during sudden, unpredictable events such as wars, rebel attacks or volcanic eruptions, which often create emergencies.
Our work is financed by donations and members’ contributions. As the board works on a honorary basis, very little of our funds is spent for administration. We do not manage our own projects, but we support protected areas and other nature conservation organisations when something is urgently needed. We do not follow a rigid approach: we make decisions on an individual basis, in a fast and un-bureaucratic manner, appropriate to individual conditions and requirements. We collaborate with local contact persons in whom we trust, and our assistant in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is in constant contact with the local projects.