Photographer Christian Ziegler recalls his first encounter with a wild bonobo while on assignment for National Geographic in the Congo’s rain forest. Like ecotourists and researchers, he was able to get up close to the great ape because of the efforts of a remarkable partnership of indigenous people and conservation groups dedicated to safeguarding the forest for the human and animal communities depending on a healthy environment.
Panama-based Christian Ziegler specializes in nature photography. His exclusive photos of bonobos appear in the March 2013 issue of National Geographic, illustrating “The Left Bank Ape”, written by David Quammen. In this blog post for News Watch, Ziegler portrays Lola ya Bonobo, a sanctuary for bonobos orphaned by hunters who took their mothers for bushmeat. Here in the grounds of a former country club on the edge of Kinshasa, human “mamas” act as surrogate mothers for baby bonobos, giving them the love and stimulation essential for them to survive.