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AWF's Jef Dupain Featured in Award-Winning Documentary

  • Monday, April 25, 2005

The Jules Verne Film Festival recently awarded the Jury Special Award to The Ghosts of Lomako, directed by Kenton Vaughan, 90th Parallel Productions Ltd. This highly personal documentary follows a team of scientists, including the African Wildlife Foundation's primatologist Jef Dupain, in their mission to save the bonobos in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a country struggling to survive post-civil war.

Primatologist Jef Dupain set out for the Lomako Forest, one of the most remote parts of the Congo basin, to study the endangered bonobo ape in 1994. But, in 1997, civil war broke out in the region. Dupain was forced to flee. In the years that followed, the Lomako Forest was cut off from the rest of the world, leaving the fate of the area's people and wildlife a mystery. In 2002, as hopes for peace emerged, Dupain returned to the Lomako Forest to continue his work studying and protecting the bonobos. The Ghosts of Lomako complete with rare footage of bonobos in the wild, documents Dupain's journey back into the Congo basin.

As the documentary depicts, Dupain is taking a leading role in gaining a greater understanding of these apes, in hopes of helping the bonobo population recover from devastating loss. Since the completion of the film, Dupain has become the African Wildlife Foundation's Congo Heartland Coordinator. In this leadership role, Dupain is working closely with other researchers to identify bonobo distribution. A recent AWF-sponsored survey of the Lomako forest revealed more bonobos than anticipated and roughly the equivalent of pre-2002 levels. However, their distribution was patchy, making the bonobos difficult to find. AWF believes that while this patchiness could be due to natural ecology, it is more like the result of hunting pressure. Either way, this patchy distribution will make protecting bonobos even more difficult.

The Ghosts of Lomako has been selected for 12 festivals, including the Calgary International Film Festival and the International Wildlife Film Festival and received more than five awards.

For more information about this documentary, contact John Butler at [email protected].

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