Today, I am writing with much sadder news that I know all who came to visit will also grieve over – our experienced tracker and chief of all trackers Papa Bosco Ikwa Nyamalolo died suddenly but peacefully in his native village of Bokoli on Thursday 30 April.
Papa Bosco Ikwa is a member of one of two prominent area families who have remained devoted to the conservation of the bonobos even during times of great upheaval. Besides knowing everything about bonobos and the forest, Papa Bosco was a funny and friendly man. He liked to call me “chief,” and each time he did I would interrupt him to say “it is you who is chief and father.”
He had 10 children, and two of his sons are now eco-guards for the Lomako-Yokokala Faunal Reserve. Another of his sons, Bomposo Dupont seems to have the same love of the forest and, under the training of Papa Bosco’s deputy, Papa Mange, is expected to one day take over in managing the trackers.
The day I presented Papa Bosco with the formal decree for the Lomako-Yokokala Faunal Reserve he helped create, he said, “Chief, this forest was for our family, and today, it became public property; we’ve made a great advance for us and for the whole world.”
His last project at the Lomako Conservation Science Center was to work with the AWF-led expedition. This team is truly fortunate to have met him and benefited from all his forest knowledge and especially his knowledge on bonobos and their diet.
On hearing of Papa Bosco’s death, the technical head administrator of ICCN Bénoît said to me, “Valentin, the death of Papa is like a whole library on bonobos has burned.”
As we say here, “Papa Bosco, we hope that the earth of our forebears will be soft and light for you.”
Valentin blogs about bonobos and conservation from one of the wildest places on earth: the heart of the Democratic Republic of the Congo -- and the remote Lomako-Yokokala Faunal Reserve. Pivotal in establishing the Lomako Reserve in 2006, Valentin now oversees bonobo research from the new AWF conservation science camp here. Thanks to a satellite internet connection, Valentin brings the Lomako forest and the fascinating world of bonobos to you.
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