The earth belongs to everyone

Aid for animals and people

Lola ya Bonobo

Lola is a bonobo sanctuary  in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  It was founded by Claudine André in 1995 as a rescue station for orphaned bonobos.  Since then it stands for integrated aid par excellence including not only the protection of an endangered species, but  the development of a whole region.

The DRC is a very large country with an abundance of natural resources,  which has been battered by war for years and is struggling to find its feet again.  One of the country’s gems is its flora and fauna, but as long as the basic needs of the population are not satisfied, the riches of Congolese nature cannot be protected.


 Claudine André

Claudine André moved from Belgium to the Congo at the age of 4. In 1993, a baby bonobo changed her life: Mikeno arrived at the Kinshasa zoo, where Claudine was a volunteer, without much hope of survival. Claudine was determined to save him, and was thrown into an adventure which has never stopped.

 In 2002 she founded just outside Kinshasa the only bonobo sanctuary in the world, called Lola ya Bonobo (Paradise for Bonobos). 

Claudine has been awarded the National Order of Merit by France and the Prince Laurent Prize for the Environment by Belgium.  She gives lectures all over the world, raising awareness of bonobos and ensuring their future.


 Preservation of an endangered species

Bonobos are highly intelligent primates, who live in only a few parts of the Congo and are endangered, because they are hunted and eaten and their habitat is reduced. 

Lola gives a home to orphan bonobos whose parents have been killed, as they would otherwise die or be kept in sad conditions as pets.

 Helping the people

Lola Ya Bonobo gives a home to 52 bonobos and work, support and hope to a whole human community.  

Congolese women and men find jobs there, with medical insurance for them and their whole family. Local farmers are able to sell their produce to the sanctuary. The bonobos need 10 tons of fruits and vegetables per month.


 Education

Every day, Lola receives visitors and school classes who are instructed in the importance of preserving the indigenous flora and fauna. In addition materials for five primary schools and two secondary schools, totaling over 1,000 students has been provided. The schools had not received new materials (textbooks, etc) since the 1980s and the school atlas dated back to1965.


 Research

Researchers and scientist from all over the world are coming to Lola in order to study these unique primates with their fascinating social behavior. Bonobo groups are led by an association of females and conflicts are resolved by sexual activities.

The release project in particular has attracted wide scientific attention. Professor Richard Wrangham of Harvard University and Dr. Brian Hare’s research group at Duke University accompanied the bonobos’ post-release monitoring. 


 Release into the Wild

A world first

Since 2009, the world’s first bonobo release was conducted, where a group of orphan bonobos was returned to the wild. The reserve is double the size of Manhattan or 20,000 hectares of primary forest in the Equateur province. The reserve is called ‘Ekolo ya Bonobo’ meaning land of the bonobos.

Ekolo ya Bonobo

Since the release, there have been three wild births, officially making the project a success. Ekolo is right on the river, part of the arterial network of transport routes in Congo. When the bonobos were released, thousands of people were travelling from far and wide to see them, many who had never seen a bonobo in their natural habitat. Recognizing a unique opportunity, a wide education program was started that now reaches over 11,000 people a year along the major route that bushmeat traders must travel to market.

We think that Lola is an example of integrated aid par excellence that deserves our support.

We want .....

...to build up ecotourism and visitor programs

Visitors are already a welcome source of income in Lola. They can participate in daily tasks in the sanctuary and learn about the bonobos and the problems of the people living in the Congo. They can visit nearby villages and buy products that promote local commerce. Ecotourism and "sensitizing tourism" is the one of the last chances for African wildlife to survive.

...to develop environmental programs in public schools

 Environmental preservation will have to become an integral part of education, so that generations to come understand that our planet belongs to everyone. Nature must be preserved and looked after for the benefits of humans and animals alike.

We want to create a prize for Congolese children who are particularly active in animal and nature preservation.

 ...to deliver more medical aid and sanitary benefits to the people

There is a sanitary infrastructure in Lola that could be used for the benefit of people and animals alike. Many European doctors would be willing to help during their holidays with consultations and advice for the local people and health personnel. They would need lodgings and pharmaceutical supplies.

 For this we need your support - please help us

Banque Cantonale de Genève - IBAN: CH22 0078 8000 0503 8290 7 -  BIC/SWIFT: BCGECHGGXXX - Clearing/CB: 788