Dem Rep of Congo: Lola Ya Bonobo Sanctuary

There are only four great apes in the world – gorilla, chimpanzee, orangutan, and bonobo. The latter lives only in one country – the Democratic Republic of the Congo, deep in the country, separated from other habitats by the Congo River. Lola Ya Bonobo is a sanctuary about an 15 drive southwest from Kinshasa that is the world’s only sanctuary for bonobos – there are around 70-80 animals here living in natural environment of over 30 hectares of primary forest. In the wild, bonobos continue to be killed for bushmeat and babies sold as pets. The sanctuary saves the babies and they are cared for and brought up and socialized with each other to eventually be reintroduced in the wild. Lola Ya Bonobo Sanctuary is this perhaps the only place to see these apes, the last remaining species that I hadn’t see before. While bonobos are somewhat similar to chimpanzees, they have a lot of distinct features – longer limbs, dark faces, pink lips, and longer hair on their heads. Unlike chimps, bonobos are purely vegetarian, and their society is matriarchal. Along with the chimpanzee, the bonobo is the closest extant relative to humans.