Bonobo and Large Mammal Survey
Bonobos are found only in the African country of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Regional Surveys – Bonobo Monitoring
In order to describe the types of forest where bonobos are found, the team records the characteristics (such as diameter) of trees encountered.
- An overall estimation of the size and distribution of the bonobo population in the Salonga National Park;
- A comparison of bonobo and large-mammal densities in different forest structures; and
- An understanding of the relationship between bonobo density and human activities.
The results of the site surveys thus far have provided an assessment of war and post-war conditions in different regions of the park, preliminary survey data on bonobos and large mammals, and a refined assessment of logistics. The surveys have resulted in the first information database obtained from in-depth site visits to the Salonga. This crucial information will be used to guide future conservation efforts for the bonobo and for the Salonga.
Confiscated items: guns, ivory, and leopard skins.
Most recently, the ZSM has compared bonobo density among several sites with different forest composition and poaching levels. This work is a precursor to understanding the ecological boundaries of bonobo distribution, the degree of population fragmentation, habitat requirements/use and the impacts of human presence. ZSM will be publishing its findings in scientific journals on these topics.
In addition to assessing wildlife, ZSM provides emergency relief aid in the form of equipment, food rations, and funds to cover salaries and medical care for park guards. An anti-poaching patrol has been set up on the Yenge River, a major access route to the park frequently used by poachers. (See Salonga National Park Support). During each survey mission, a series of site surveys of key areas within the park are conducted. The goals of these missions are:
- To evaluate the impact of the war on the park and wildlife by surveying bonobos, large mammals and forest types in accessible locations;
- To pay park guards, who have not received salaries or supplies regularly since the onset of the war; and
- To establish an anti-poaching program.
Salonga park guards are trained in biological methodology at Etate, ZSM’s research station in the Salonga National Park.
Training Field Biologists
Long-term bonobo conservation depends on the ability of the Congolese wildlife managers to play a leading role in ecological research and wildlife population assessment. Thus, training is a premier component of the bonobo and large-mammal survey. In tandem with the Salonga survey, Congolese field biologists and park personnel are trained in survey methodologies such as: animal sign identification, data collection, sampling techniques, and global positioning system usage. These skills are the basis of effective wildlife monitoring and can be transferred to other species and conservation sites. Training enables the Congolese to lead the bonobo survey and other conservation efforts and to make informed decisions about their country’s conservation needs.