At just one and a half hours’ drive west of Kinshasa City, past the City’s lies the fascinating project that offers a haven for several Orphaned Bonobos. It is situated at 8 kilometers/5 miles off the nearby Matadi road. Being mistaken to be the Chimpanzees, the Bonobos are a different species known to be more calm and friendly than their Counterparts (Chimpanzees). The exceptional Bonobos are endangered with just 50,000 living in the Wild. Hiking trails within Lola ya Bonobo lead tourists through the Vast, forested enclosure, but the fun-loving Bonobos always relaxing at the front of the Sanctuary especially in the morning hours.
This Sanctuary was established in 1994 by Claudine Andre and is the world’s only Sanctuary sheltering the Orphaned Bonobos. From 2002, this exceptional Site has been situated exactly south of Kimwenza suburb at the Petites Chutes de la Lukaya in Kinshasa within the Democratic Republic of Congo. Lola ya Bonobo is a Lingala (major language in Kinshasa and Democratic Republic of Congo generally) word meaning “Paradise for Bonobos”, and as of 2012, Lola ya Bonobos was a haven to over 60 Orphaned Bonobos who have their residence in 30 hectares of natural dominant Forest. This unique Sanctuary is a member of the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA)-the largest Association of Wildlife Centers in Africa.
In most cases, Bonobos are brought into the Sanctuary as young infants. This is because with the rise of bush meat trade in Democratic Republic of Congo that sees several Bonobos killed by poachers each year for bush meat, the mature ones are killed and the Infants are sold as pets. When impounded, the infant Bonobos are taken to the Lola ya Bonobos. These infant Bonobos start their lives at the Sanctuary with tender care from surrogate human mother, but are normally quickly ready to be united with the peer group, and precisely afterwards into one of the immense mixed-age or social groups.
Even though the Bonobos of Lola ya Bonobos Sanctuary live in captivity, their residence is in an environment similar to the wild. The Bonobos can feed among groups of edible flora and fruiting trees, and also compete for mating partners (like other animals in the wild) and learn to keep away from any form of danger like stumbling on venomous snakes like they would do in the wild. Because of this, the Bonobos living at the Lola ya Bonobos Sanctuary (in a typical forest habitat) exhibit real natural behaviors observed with the wild Bonobos-it is even very interesting that they show unique behaviors like the use of tools that have been noticed from the Bonobos in the Wild.
How to get to Lola ya Bonobo
You will have to either use Public of Private transport means from Kinshasa. A special hire car usually costs from $100 to $150 depending on your bargaining power (during dry seasons) but increases to over $200 during the wet season, but tourists are also advised to use 4WD vehicles that can go through the murram roads connecting to the Sanctuary.
In conclusion, the Lola ya Bonobo is a perfect destination for primate lovers because you get to explore the close relatives of the Chimpanzees that we might confuse for Chimpanzees.