National Geographic : 2013 Mar
bonobos 117 The youngster ulrich rides his mother, uma, to the next foraging site. Bonobos spend much of their time on the ground, enjoying exclusive access to plant foods that on the right bank of the Congo are claimed by gorillas. to market by bicycle. With park status for part of TL2, antihunting regulations, support from local people, and enforcement at just a few checkpoints, he explained, that trade could be choked off. TL2 has magnificent potential, but the constraints are formidable, even for such an irrepressible, experienced man as John Hart. In Kinshasa I joined John and Terese, and we flew into Kindu, a provincial capital in eastern Congo (and a jumping-off point to TL2) on the west bank of the Lualaba River, which defines the eastern limit of bonobo distribution. In Kin- du we finally got approval for a little five-day ex- pedition through TL2. Around four p.m.—late for a departure, but we were concerned not to lose another day—we climbed into a large dug- out canoe before the officials could change their minds. We were joined by two of the Harts’ trusted Congolese colleagues, plus a visiting biologist, and a colonel and a soldier (both with Kalashnikovs) as our military escorts. There was also a man from the immigration direc- torate, assigned at the last minute to shadow us. The immigration man wore street shoes and carried his change of shirt in a briefcase. We’ll be out about 30 days, and you’ll need to help us kill crocodiles for food, John teased him, as the outboard pushed us weakly away from Kindu, and we set our course midstream down the Lualaba. The river was brown, flat, and a thousand yards wide. The sun, sinking low behind the dry- season haze, looked like a great bloody yolk. I watched a pair of palm-nut vultures pass over- head and then, to the east, a flock of fruit bats circling their roost. Dusk faded quickly to dark, and the river glowed sepia with reflection from a waxing crescent moon. The air cooled; we pulled on jackets. Hours later we grounded at a village on the left bank that marked our trailhead for this hike into bonobo country. It had to be the left bank, I knew. There were no bonobos, any- where, on the right. j evidence of anxieties has begun emerging from a hormone study. n Society Grant Research on bonobos was funded in part by your national geographic Society membership.