Congolese NGO Vie Sauvage Wins UN Equator Prize for Innovative Community-Based Conservation of Bonobos and Rainforest

WASHINGTON and KINSHASA, Congo, Sept. 28, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — The United Nations Development Programme has announced that Vie Sauvage (“Wildlife”), an organization dedicated to protecting bonobos and biodiversity in the Congo rainforest, has won the 2020 Equator Prize.

The Equator Prize celebrates local indigenous peoples’ initiatives that advance innovative nature-based solutions for conservation and sustainable development. Vie Sauvage is one of ten winners out of almost 600 applicants from around the world.

The Equator Prize 2020 winners will be recognized through a virtual award ceremony on September 29, the culmination of a four-day UN “Nature For Life” event. This inspiring celebration will highlight all ten winning organizations and feature remarks by a host of luminaries, including renowned primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall and Sting. Vie Sauvage was profiled for the Equator Prize in this short video produced by One Earth.

Founded in 1999, Vie Sauvage collaborated with their international partner, the Bonobo Conservation Initiative (, to pioneer a community-led approach that addresses conservation and humanitarian needs simultaneously. Their efforts have led to the development of the Bonobo Peace Forest, a network of reserves spanning a vast area of vital rainforest in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“We like to say ‘Salisa bonobo mpe bonobo bakosalisa yo’ which means help bonobos and bonobos will help you,” said Albert Lotana Lokasola, founder and president of Vie Sauvage.

Vie Sauvage spearheaded the creation of the Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve, a 4,875 km2 protected area that serves as a pilot and model for the Bonobo Peace Forest. Vie Sauvage manages the reserve and provides the lifesaving field teams who protect bonobos, an endangered species of great ape. The organization also directs community projects for agriculture, health, and education. Vie Sauvage has inspired other local communities to launch their own conservation initiatives, expanding their integrated, holistic approach beyond Kokolopori.

“It is a great pleasure for me and my community to be honoured with the Equator Prize,” said Lokasola. “It is an opportunity to strengthen and disseminate our conservation model—one rooted in our culture and traditions—at a regional level throughout the Bonobo Peace Forest, using Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve as an anchor site. This award will help support the new generation of forest stewards of Kokolopori, educating them in how to use their traditional knowledge to foster rainforest conservation.”

Sally Jewell Coxe, founder and president of the Bonobo Conservation Initiative, said, “Together with Vie Sauvage, we are committed to decolonizing conservation. Indigenous leadership is fundamental to effective and long-lasting solutions. We are proud to partner with Vie Sauvage on creating a vision for a sustainable future and bringing it to life.”

Rebecca Bossen McHugh

SOURCE Bonobo Conservation Initiative

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