Bonobos - Interview with Claudine Andre, a central figure of the film
On 05/04/2011 at 16:15

Affiche film bonobos When you started the adventure with the bonobos?
My history with the Bonobos is inseparable from the politics of the Congo.
First I have spent my entire life, my father was a veterinarian, the animal is therefore something that is part of my life. I lived near the Virunga Volcanoes, I've never seen a place so beautiful. I was always soaked in nature ...
In 1990, 1991, we entered a tumultuous time with the multiparty system introduced by Mobutu, who led the infamous looting of Congolese cities.

After that period, we tried to organize with other mothers to rebuild schools, homes for our children. At the same time, I was asked to help rehabilitate the zoo, I do not think for one moment that the animals and the garden itself might have survived these terrible violence. I even thought they probably ate the animals ... Well no, animal trainers had kept their livestock, but had no budget to buy food and treat ...
By entering this zoo, I knew my life would never be the same, I knew I could not bear what I see ... I was also in the past, working in the company of my husband, deeply involved in social issues, and so when I saw the thirty men standing nearly in the same state as the animals, I I am told no ...

I could have the time to turn to an orphanage or other organization, I considered it like that ... I was actually shocked by what I saw, my family and my friends were too upset ... We unanimously said we should do something. We already lived for over 20 years in Kinshasa ...
At this time you discovered the bonobos for the first time?
In the zoo, there were mainly chimpanzees, however, very quickly we came to get me in her arms a baby bonobo. The zoo director then warned me about the fact that this species does not survive in captivity, too fragile, too special ... I wanted to meet this challenge!
Very quickly, saving the first Bonobo Mikeno, my prince charming (laughter), I found myself with a dozen Bonobos. I understand that people do not understand me and so I chose to involve the Congolese authorities, the Ministry of Environment, to compel them to capture these animals were captured, they are from that time then may be protected by law Congolese.
You've decided to create a park to save the bonobos?
I was first greeted by the American school, but soon with the arrival of peace in Congo, it took me to relocating, I searched an area around Kinshasa, but then discovered bad The war had led to many around the clearing.
I then found a small haven that had survived were the falls of the Lucaya. Stitches in the association eventually buy this site ... We had 35 hectares of forest.
The association Lola Ya Bonobo ( ), whose significance in Lingala, the local language, means paradise, protected location ... quickly became a full-fledged business.

I immediately understood that the conservation of the species passing through the education of young people. Abandoned children orphans living in zoos have very quickly changed their behavior towards animals through our explanations and our modest education.
By educating children at an early age, he avoided being tempted later to go hunting for a few dollars of bushmeat. It then informs the evolution of poaching.

How was the movie?
I met the director Alain Tixier, who is also director of Ushuaia by Nicolas Hulot, who had turned, a few years ago a documentary, Return to Planet of the Apes, and he was therefore come shoot bonobos ... He experienced the same thing as me when he met the gaze of Bonobos. Indeed, their look is very different from that of chimpanzees or gorillas, they look at you straight in the eye, they probe your soul ....
Everything is real in the movie?
It is a documentary fiction, indeed it would not possible to take a film crew of 17 people in the middle of the forest. And I do not see how the release of bonobos during the shooting period. Nevertheless, we show in the film exactly where we actually released the bonobos.
The film highlights the cycle experienced by bononos Lola bonobos are several tables:
- Happiness in the forest
- Hunters who arrive in the forest
- An orphan who goes with her parents boucanés trying to be sold as a pet

  • Confiscation, the arrival in a sanctuary and happy life.
  • Reintegration into the wild
Why was it a production interest in this subject and your commitment is very strong?
I think the great apes, it is something that appeals to everyone.
Children for example, say, if you can not save our closest cousins​​, nothing will save it. And I would add, we will find ourselves face to face on earth, only humans, and although I would be happy to be dead (laughs!)

We often talk about the similarities between bonobos and men, can you tell us more?We often talk about the similarities between bonobos and men, can you tell us more?
Bonobos are like us, I say to you even if I am often accused of making anthropomorphism. For example, the baby bonobo grows slowly, between 4 and 6 years they lose their baby teeth, the females have their first period between 8 and 12 years, they have the same ovarian cycle than humans, besides the ovarian pill was first tested on bonobos. Bonobo females are postmenopausal to 38/40 years. This animal is very, very close to us!
How do you struggle against hunting bonobos?
Other sanctuaries like ours exist in the Congo to collect the orphans of the bushmeat hunting. We must remain mobilized against these organized gangs of poachers. They are rife in our national parks.
The trade in bushmeat is related significantly to poverty. Unfortunately, sanctions are never higher gain generated by this traffic. The poacher is verbalized, there is a seizure of the baby bonobo, but we're not going to jail, so poachers again ... In some parts of Congo, ready to bonobo meat excellent virtues during pregnancy.
To cope with the evil people to animals in Congo, I created goodness clubs, where children are committed to being good with animals, is dedicated to educating and respect animals ... We get 20,000 children to Lola in the afternoon green. They are talking about biodiversity.
Faced with steadily increasing population of orphaned bonobos at Lola, we must implement a program of reintroduction of bonobos in partnership with EILUs. I made ​​a pilot with the authorities and peoples.
We provide education for children, equipment, training and in return, they undertake not to hunt bonobos. It is called integrated conservation.
How does your work with the authorities-you it is organized for the protection of bonobos?
t's a nice showcase of conservation authorities, since Lola ya Bonobo is located 30 km from Kinshasa (the capital of the DRC). I'm not asking for money to the authorities, I think our country too much to ask them to build for the money, we have our own fundraising. I just ask them to implement the guidelines I have given, namely to provide for the confiscation in the name of the law, and here they are, they play the game if a child knows that Lola ya Bonobo calls to denounce bonobo is a sale, the authorities stop the owner, and verbalize the bonobo is taken in our park. A sanctuary for bonobos also allows law enforcement. It is very important here ...
Can you tell us more about the lifestyle of bonobos?
Bonobos are a very particular kind of monkey, the chimpanzee is the warrior of the forest while Bonobo is itself the hippie.
The bonobo has no property or land and livestock. It can move from group to group. Sex is the language of peace bonobos. It is used to soothe tensions. They willingly share their food together.
It is an egalitarian society where females rule the functioning of the clan in temperate natural aggressiveness of males. In the animal kingdom, the male will often retain the leadership.
The rivalry between males enervate particularly females who are often involved in a group for punishment.
Males also regulate rivalry between females.
It is extremely difficult to release the bonobos.
This film is a true story ...
The lives of great apes calls, if we fail to save our closest cousins​​, the human species is probably just in great danger ...

What is your opinion and vision on the bio?
I will not deny that this is a very distant issue for the Congolese, but they still afraid of imported food.
However, fruits and vegetables are grown without chemical fertilizers or pesticides ... By cons when I'm in Europe, all these stalls of beautiful vegetables and fruits, it makes me freak!
They are too beautiful, too round?
With us, there is no fertilizer, so everything is organic, they are not as bright on the shelves in Europe by cons. It seems that there is a layer of nail polish on it.
And when you come in Europe or France for example, do you try to buy organic produce?
I'm afraid of what I eat and I make sure to consume a maximum of organic products, I believe. I go to an organic market. I do not trust.
When I see some reports on fish culture or mass rearing chickens in battery, it makes me freak, I do not want to eat here. But hey, we should go live in the country. But you know what, we'll end up eating the pills, I'm sure! It will be so disgusted with what we eat is ... If I were given the choice between a fish reared in appalling conditions or a pill that has the same inputs, I do not know what I decide is Sad to say, but maybe because I'm staggered.
I am delighted to be 65 anyway, I know together we are the generation who have ruined it, because it's easy to tell our children to pay attention now.

You use cosmetics?
Oddly, it does not concerns me. They swamp us with so much research, I am more likely to trust a great brand of cream, a cream with sage ...
For cons, I do not want parabens or aluminum salt.
I am more aware of organic food on the part I think.

It may also be afraid, thinking that a cream is applied, the body incorporates the same way that the food we eat?
Good question, I am also of the generation who were led to believe that the skin was really tight and did not absorb anything.
I also feel that takes us a little boat, a sudden we hear something, something else a shot ...

What is your vision of the follow-up to your commitment?
I am a bonobote me, that is to say that I do not want conflict. So with scientists who said: "reintroduce bonobos in the wild population is not well ..." I think it's unfortunate, because it is the only case where this will happen peacefully, so I had so much pressure of this small handful of scientists, so I said "ok", I put them back in a reserve where they were and where the latter was killed 10 years ago. So there is no wild bonobos at home.
- Medium term: ... I find it unfortunate that scientists also gave me strict instructions to reinstate the bonobos in the wild, so for now they are reintegrated into the wild but controlled. But since 2 years, all the bonobos have never been released patients, there were births are in very good health, there have been births, they do well, there has not been a single loss. There were small accidents, yes, it is normal they are acrobats. We follow them from morning till evening, so they will never be free. Why? Because scientists are willing to give you money for a pilot project, but they want the data.
The project right now, this week is a 2nd release. It will be done 3 times. The veterinarian that we see in the film is already out there right now. A large group of bonobos will be reintroduced into the wilderness preserve.

Do you have a message you would like to convey?
On film, I hold that if they can not save the last great apes, we will save perhaps nothing else and one day we will find ourselves face to face with ourselves on the planet and there is the best man of great apes, but perhaps he is the best in the worst, so it might be better even when we try to understand that biodiversity is a whole, since land is already sick. This is important, it is everything.

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