About Us


The Bonobo Conservation Initiative Australia (BCIA) Pty Ltd (ACN- 131 149 650) was incorporated in May 2008 as a not-for-profit public company with the primary objective of promoting the conservation of the bonobo chimpanzee (pan paniscus) and their habitat through:

  • Raising funds and support to assist bonobo conservation projects
  • Raising awareness of the need to preserve bonobo populations in their natural habitat
  • Studying bonobos in the Congo (DRC) to better understand their natural environment and the threats to their survival.

BCIA has Deductible Gift Recipient status from the Australian Taxation Office and is on the Register of Environmental Organisations of the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts.

Partnership with Bonobo Conservation Initiative ( United States)


BCIA is proud to be an independent partner of the Bonobo Conservation Initiative (United States),  the international leader in bonobo conservation, with offices in Washington DC and Congo (DRC). BCIA works closely with BCI (USA) and their network of offices, Congolese partners and partnerships with indigenous communities to  promote bonobo conservation.

Our Approach to Bonobo Conservation- Community-led Conservation

Given almost all bonobo habitat is shared by indigenous people, BCIA believes the best and most effective way of protecting the maximum number of bonobos is to support local communities in bonobo-rich areas by making the the bonobos more valuable to them alive than dead. This involves scientific surveys to determine bonobo density and social surveys to determine community traditions, taboos and needs. Agreements are then made with local communities and NGOs to prevent hunting, logging, poaching and habitat encroachment in exchange for agreed conservation and community development assistance (training and support for anti-poaching/monitoring teams, health clinics and mosquito nets, schools and scholarships, microcredit, agriculture and transport, legal support and awareness-raising of land rights against loggers etc). Periodic evaluation and monitoring ensures this exchange continues for as long as bonobos are protected. This model has a mushrooming effect, as other communities in nearby bonobo-rich areas also seek to enter such agreements and cooperate with each other.

This bottom-up approach has succeeded in effectively preserving vast amounts (more than 40,000km2) of bonobo habitat, in contrast to the top-down approach of large traditional environmental organisations (which typically involves having an area declared a national park, clearing local people out and then ineffectively trying to keep them out) which has shown very poor results, despite the large amounts of funds they receive. With this community-focused approach, we are helping bonobos by helping some of the very poorest people in the world, as well as fighting global warming by preserving the Congo Basin rainforest.


The Bonobo Conservation Initiative Australia was founded in May 2008 on the initiative of four young Australian professionals with a longstanding interest in primate conservation, and who were privileged to make rare journeys to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2005 and 2006 under the guidance of the Bonobo Conservation Initiative USA.

Joining the ranks of just a handful of outsiders who have ever had the opportunity to view bonobos in their natural habitat, Martin Bendeler, Angus Gemmell, Philip Strickland and Luke Bennett were struck by the bonobos’ unique grace and beauty and the risk of their imminent extinction.

They returned to Australia resolved to establish an organisation to disseminate information about this important but lesser known primate, and through which Australians could contribute to saving the bonobos.    


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