Empty Hands, Open Arms: The Race to Save Bonobos in the Congo and Make Conservation Go Viral
Béchard discovered one relatively small NGO, the Bonobo Conservation Initiative (BCI), which has done more to save bonobos than many far larger organizations. Based on the author’s extensive travels in the Congo and Rwanda, this book explores BCI's success, offering a powerful, truly postcolonial model of conservation. In contrast to other traditional conservation groups Béchard finds, BCI works closely with Congolese communities, addressing the underlying problems of poverty and unemployment, which lead to the hunting of bonobos. By creating jobs and building schools, they gradually change the conditions that lead to the eradication of the bonobos.
This struggle is far from easy. Devastated by the worst military conflict since World War II, the Congo and its forests continue to be destroyed by aggressive logging and mining. Béchard's fascinating and moving account—filled with portraits of the extraordinary individuals and communities who make it all happen offers a rich example of how international conservation must be reinvented before it's too late.
BCI had proposed this project to the DRC government during the moratorium on new logging concessions, and President Joseph Kabila, the World Bank, and other multilateral donors supported it in the context of developing innovative approaches to long-term protection of the rainforest. The project would provide livelihoods for the local communities, as they would be the ones managing and zoning land, and the concessions would link up to other reserves and unofficial protected areas in the Bonobo
Kinois had beenTurner and Meditz, “Introduction,” in Meditz and Merrill, Zaire: A Country Study, xlviii, l–li. 104For an invasion to toppleTurner, The Congo Wars, 37. Jason Stearns, in Dancing in the Glory of Monsters, 193–94. 104And yet the Congo WarsThis tension was in part a result, as Thomas Turner writes, of the Belgian colonial idea “that parts of Congo were underpopulated, especially by ‘useful’ Africans [i.e., supposedly racially superior Tutsis]. This led to programmes to transfer
29, 2011, http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2011/08/tutsi-differ-genetically-from-the-hutu/; Razib Khan, “Tutsi Genetics ii,” Discover, August 31, 2011, http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2011/08/tutsi-genetics-ii. 105Over two million citizensKevin C. Dunn, Imagining the Congo: The International Relations of Identity (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), 143. 105Between thirty and forty thousandGérard Prunier, Africa’s World War: Congo, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Making of a
remembered only the epithets. “They were called la Partie des Nègres Payés—the Party of Paid Negroes—or Pene Pene Na Mundele. Pene meant close, and mundele was a white person or a foreigner. It meant very close to the whites. The real name was probably Partie Nationale du Peuple or something like that.” Albert and his older sister, Gertrude, were staying in Yetee, his maternal village, when one afternoon five barefoot Simbas arrived along the path, carrying machetes and clubs. Albert was only
DRC, she had a good base in the language, but a few months before her departure, the Rwandan genocide began. During the hundred days beginning on April 6, 1994, eight hundred thousand Tutsis and moderate Hutus would be massacred—most of them killed with machetes. The trip to the Congo suddenly seemed far more dangerous. Sally had a college friend whose father had served in Vietnam alongside Brigadier General William E. Stevens, one of the first African-American generals in the air force. Stevens