Assessing conservation attitudes and behaviors of Congolese children neighboring the world's first bonobo (Pan paniscus) release site.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Poaching and habitat destruction in the Congo Basin threaten African great apes including the bonobo (Pan paniscus), chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), and gorillas (Gorilla spp.) with extinction. One way to combat extinction is to reintroduce rescued and rehabilitated apes and repopulate native habitats. Reintroduction programs are only successful if they are supported by local populations. Ekolo ya Bonobo, located in Equateur province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), is the world's only reintroduction site for rehabilitated bonobos. Here we assess whether children, of the Ilonga-Pôo, living adjacent to Ekolo ya Bonobo demonstrate more pro-ape conservation attitudes than children living in, Kinshasa, the capital city. We examined children's attitudes toward great apes because children are typically the focus of conservation education programs. We used the Great Ape Attitude Questionnaire to test the Contact Hypothesis, which posits that proximity to great ape habitat influences pro-conservation attitudes toward great apes. Ilonga-Pôo children who live in closer contact with wild bonobos felt greater responsibility to protect great apes compared to those in Kinshasa who live outside the natural habitat of great apes. These results suggest that among participants in the DRC, spatial proximity to a species fosters a greater sense of responsibility to protect and conserve. These results have implications for the successful implementation of great ape reintroduction programs in the Congo Basin. The data analyzed in this study were collected in 2010 and therefore provide a baseline for longitudinal study of this reintroduction site.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Bowie, A; Walker, K; Bunnell, G; Morel, D; Minesi, F; Belais, R; Hare, B

Published Date

  • January 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 83 / 1

Start / End Page

  • e23217 -

PubMed ID

  • 33226162

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1098-2345

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0275-2565

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1002/ajp.23217


  • eng