Compared to Africa’s other great apes, the bonobo has been relatively less studied. Its geographic range stretches 500,000 square kilometers across the Democratic Republic of Congo’s remotest tropical forests — difficult to reach areas with a history of regional political unrest. As such, research on bonobo ecological preferences, habitat use, and distribution has been mostly limited to small areas accessible by foot. However, with increased pressure from hunting and habitat degradation facing this endangered great ape, further study has become increasingly critical.
Following years of social turmoil and civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, people living along the banks of the Congo and Maringa Rivers had few economic opportunities. When African Wildlife Foundation began working in the Lomako landscape in 2003, the organization prioritized local livelihood improvement via sustainable agriculture production as a critical necessity for conservation.
There is greater biodiversity in Africa’s Albertine Rift region where Virunga National Park is located than in any other ecosystem in Africa. This richly diverse array of habitats is home to critical populations of the world’s last remaining mountain gorillas.
Extremely remote, Maringa-Lopori-Wamba is one of the least-developed regions in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is a vast landscape measuring 74,000 sq. km—covered in rainforest, swamps, and rivers—with no roads and where the population faces extreme poverty. Spreading the message of conservation is not easy.
The local communities of the Maringa-Lopori-Wamba (MLW) landscape in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) largely depend on the forest for their survival including agriculture, cultural value, and other non-timber forest products. However, the rights of these forest-dependent people to use the resources remain limited with little access to the exploitation of the forest, often hampered by complex regulations, thereby limiting the ability to benefit from the forestry operations.