Deep in the rainforest of the Democratic Republic of Congo lives the bonobo, an endangered great ape and one of humankind's nearest relatives. In cooperation with the Congolese people, the Bonobo Conservation Initiative establishes new protected areas and leads efforts to safeguard bonobos wherever they are found – fostering an environmental ethic and developing programs that protect the rainforest and endangered species, mitigate climate change, and empower local communities. Today, the Bonobo Peace Forest protects bonobos at 11 important sites, including two legally protected nature reserves spanning 13,650 square miles. But nothing is easy in the Congo – for bonobos or their human counterparts. So BCI invests in community-based conservation, marrying humanitarian and livelihood support. Sustainable agriculture programs provide inhabitants with one of their only significant sources of regular income; and women's initiatives include training, micro-credit, and conservation enterprise. To train the next generation of environmental leaders, BCI co-founded a college for conservation and rural development in the heart of the bonobo habitat. After all, we all share one planet.

Headquarters: DC-Ward 3

Where They Operate: DC-Ward 2; Internationally; Democratic Republic of Congo

Age Groups Served: All

Population(s) Served: All

Awards & Recognition

Finalist for the 2014 Buckminster Fuller Challenge, “socially responsible design’s highest award”

Honored by the Catalogue for Philanthropy for excellence, innovation, and cost-effectiveness 2006-07, 2010-11, and 2014-2015

Profiled by award-winning author Deni Béchard‘s in his book "Empty Hands, Open Arms: The Race to Save Bonobos in the Congo and Make Conservation Go Viral", 2013

NPR's The Animal House: Protecting An African Great Ape with BCI President Sally Jewell Coxe and writer Deni Béchard, September 2014

ABC TV: The Swingers, September 2010

The Diane Rehm Show: Environmental Outlook: Bonobos on the Brink of Extinction, interview with Sally Jewell Coxe, Vanessa Woods, and Richard Carroll, June 2010

Asheville Citizen-Times: From Asheville to Africa, to save the lovable bonobos by Carole Currie, February 2010

2009 Honorary Nkoyi Merit Award from the Congolese Community of the Greater Washington DC Metro Area

The Washington Post: D.C. woman to be honored for work with Congo's bonobos by Susan Kinzie, December 2009

Yoga+Joyful Living: Champion of a Forest Sanctuary: Sally Jewell Coxe by Lorraine Dusky, May-June 2008

TIME Magazine: An Unlikely Refuge for Hippie Apes By Alex Perry, April 2008

TIME Magazine: Photo Essay Bonobo Eden, April 2008

The New Yorker magazine: Swingers by Ian Parker, October 2007

The New York Times: Congo Creates Massive Reserve to Protect Close Human Cousin by Andrew C. Revkin, November 2007

Smithsonian Magazine: In Search of the Wild Bonobo by Paul Raffaele, November 2006

Associated Press: Congo’s Disappearing “Hippie Chimps fast disappearing in the Congo” by Anjan Sundaram, March 2006

Animal Welfare Institute Quarterly Bonobo: Messenger of Peace, Victim of War by Sally Jewell Coxe, Bonobo Conservation Initiative, Spring 2002


Budget (FY2013)

  • $3 million or higher
  • The current budget for Bonobo Conservation Initiative is: $1 million to $3 million
  • $500k to $1 million
  • Less than $500k

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