Congo Basin indigenous project helping to protect bonobos wins 2020 Equator Prize

Vie Sauvage, an indigenous organisation in the Democratic Republic of Congo dedicated to protecting bonobos and promoting biodiversity, has been awarded the 2020 Equator Prize.

The prize, awarded by the United Nations Development Programme, celebrates local community and 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.

In a remote part of the Congo Basin, Vie Sauvage has pioneered a holistic model for community development, conservation, and peace-building, helping to create and manage a 4,875 km2 reserve for the bonobo (a great ape) and other endangered species, the Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve.

Home to one of the largest known bonobo populations, Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve, established in 2009, is an important site for conservation and research. The indigenous Mongandu people at Kokolopori respect ancestral traditions to protect bonobos, working with Vie Sauvage to protect their forest while at the same time improving their quality of life.

Vie Sauvage also supports sustainable development projects in the areas of agriculture, health, and education, including the establishment of the Djolu Technical College. Their holistic, integrated approach has served as a model for the entire Bonobo Peace Forest, inspiring other local communities to launch their own conservation initiatives.

Albert Lotana Lokasola, founder and president of Vie Sauvage, said: “It is a great pleasure for me and my community to be honoured with the Equator Prize. 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.”

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at

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