A while back my family and I were in Kinshasa, DRC for about a month. One of the most memorable experiences while there, was visiting the Bonobo monkey sanctuary. If I remember correctly, the trip from Kinshasa took over or about an hour (don’t quote me, I don’t remember).
For those who don’t know what the big deal is, let me share some of the things that I learnt during my visit. Firstly, Bonobos are the most endangered great ape and although no one can be sure, there could be as few as 5,000 Bonobos left in the wild. They live only in the Democratic Republic of Congo and are hunted for their meat.
Tickets cost $10, yes, in the DRC, they use the US dollar as well as the Congolese franc. We did our tour of the sanctuary with a larger group. Although the tour was conducted mostly in French, once the guide knew there were non french speakers in the group, he started translating to English as well.
The tour was lengthy, but very nice. I had no idea there was more to Bonobo Monkeys than the monkey lovin’.
Fun fact- Bonobos cannot swim. This is one of the reasons that they are found only in the DRC, they can’t cross the great Congo river. Even at the sanctuary, some of the enclosures are surrounded by water bodies rather than fences.
Interestingly, in Bonobo society,the females are in charge….
The sanctuary is really quite lovely. I think we walked around for about 2 hours, but not once were we ‘bored’, complaining about being tired or hot, it really is a fantastic experience.
Towards the end of the tour, the last section is the place where rescued baby Bonobos are kept. Now because they need the maternal touch, there are ladies who work there and each lady has her baby Bonobo to take care of. Once the babies are older and ready to return to the wild, they are re-integrated back into one of the troops.
The sanctuary is one of the only places that help these endangered beauties. So if you are in the DRC, I urge you to visit. Not only is it an AMAZING experience, but they stand for a worthy cause.
For more information visit their website- http://www.lolayabonobo.org/