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Iyondji Community Bonobo Reserve rangers

Rangers gather around a cyber tracker. Photo provided by Iyondji Community Bonobo Reserve.

In January 2019, heavy rains devastated Iyondji farms in the Congolese province of Tshuapa, which caused an increase in poaching to compensate for lost crops. This endangered the lives of bonobos, elephants, pangolins, leopards and other species in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

You may remember that last spring, we sent $1,500 to the Iyondji Community Bonobo Reserve through our Wildlife Emergency Fund (WEF). Less than a year later, we’ve received an exciting update from the Reserve.

From May to October, a total of 1,975 snares were removed and collected! According to Balemba Balagizi Emmanuel, the Reserve’s conservationist manager, our grant went directly toward providing rangers with “ration packs” full of smoked fish, rice, beans and other local delicacies to sustain them while they were in the field for snare removal.

Due to the success of snare removal, zero bonobos were found wounded or killed during this timeframe! In addition, 112 poachers were arrested and then released after “sensitization,” or awareness training for the protection of local biodiversity.

The Reserve recognizes the motivations for poaching are complicated as many families in the region struggle to meet their most basic daily needs. Poaching can provide a source of income—or even a meal—when work opportunities are extremely limited. Rather than simply punishing the poachers, the Reserve looks to build community awareness and education while reducing threats to wildlife in the area.

We were thrilled to be able to help this cause, and you can support more wildlife in need by continuing to purchase the collectible animal buttons sold around the Zoo, the proceeds of which go to the WEF.