"What is truly exceptional is how the Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve has inspired other communities in the bonobo habitat who have voluntarily initiated their own projects to protect their forest and bonobos," says Coxe of BCI. "Beyond that, Kokolopori inspired the residents of Falls Church, Virginia to create the first sister city partnership between the USA and the DRC. This shows how a common vision and positive action can motivate many people and create a grand result."
The project has been largely supported by the Global Conservation Fund and the Central Africa Program of Conservation International, which provide both financial and technical support, and other donors, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Great Ape Conservation Fund. Through the Kokolopori-Falls Church Sister City Partnership, the citizens of Falls Church, Virginia have contributed essential support for community development programs and have initiated a dynamic cultural exchange that benefits both communities.
José Endundo, the DRC Minister of the Environment, who officially declared the new reserve, said, "We are proud to support this innovative, community-driven initiative, which protects a vital rainforest and rare and endemic species, including the bonobo and Salongo monkey (Cercopithecus dryas), now being studied for the first time in Kokolopori. The Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve is aiding the local human population with means of sustainable economic development, education and opportunities, while also contributing to our country's commitment to protect 15 percent of our national lands. I salute the leadership of Vie Sauvage and BCI and thank the many partners who have made this nature reserve a success and model for other communities to follow."