Protecting the endangered bonobo through ...

Protecting the Endangered Bonobo

  • Developing the Etate Research Station and Patrol Post
  • Surveys & Ecological Research
  • Park support and guard training
  • Community assistance

About the Bonobo and Congo Biodiversity Initiative (BCBI)

For more than 20 years, under Dr. Gay Reinartz’s direction, the BCBI has studied and helped to ensure the survival of endangered bonobo great apes and forest elephants and maintain the biodiversity of Salonga National Park. The BCBI has identified what is believed to be the largest unfragmented population of bonobos in the world. The BCBI also supports five primary schools in local villages with teacher salaries and supplies, as well as adult literacy classes and training in sustainable agriculture. We are proud of this work and our contributions to the global conservation community.

After 35 years of service to the Zoological Society of Milwaukee, Dr. Reinartz retired on May 31, 2019. We are excited for her as she begins this next chapter in her life.

Conservation initiatives have evolved tremendously since BCBI began, and after considering our mission, operational capacity and Dr. Reinartz’s retirement, we have decided to close the initiative. We are currently identifying an experienced partner with more resources to host and lead this important work, and we will evaluate our future conservation activities in a way that best aligns with our mission, resources and capabilities. We will provide more details when they are available.

About the Salonga National Park

The Zoological Society of Milwaukee and other leading conservation organizations believe that the Salonga National Park is the world’s best hope for conserving endangered bonobo great apes, forest elephants, and the rich biodiversity and natural resources required for life in the Congo and globally.

The Salonga National Park is one of the last remaining intact tropical forests, and the third-largest rain forested park in the world. It is thought to harbor at least 40% of the world’s bonobo population as well as many other threatened species, including the last remaining herd of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s forest elephants.

Both elephants and bonobos are nature’s seed dispersers and therefore help this giant forest to regenerate. The forest in turn, plays a critical role in the world’s biosphere, pumping out tons of oxygen for us to breathe and simultaneously storing carbon that mitigates global climate change. Also, by sheltering the headwaters and fisheries of seven major rivers, Salonga feeds thousands of indigenous people.

The information on this site chronicles the work of the BCBI over the past several years.