subjectConversation on Connection b/t Biodiversity and Sustainability

to: “sustainable se wisconsin-yahoogroups.com” <sustainable_se_wisconsin@yahoogroups.com>
date:June 30, 2007 7:30 AM

Dear All,

A couple of years ago I became hooked on the story of the bonobos, who, along with the chimpanzees, are our closest primate relatives. Frans de Waal’s “Our Inner Ape” was the mind expanding book that informed me of these matriarchal, relatively non-violent “cousins” of ours, who provide a more inspiring image of our origins than the pretty murderous chimps, a patriarchal, quite violent bunch, e.g. males chase down and kill the off-spring of their rivals.

De Waal’s book inspired these lines:


Physical power means even less to the divine bonobos,

A matriarchal species where the females prevail
By virtue of their “sisterhood.”

Males derive their status from their mother’s rank.
The alpha bonobo, Queen Bonoba, never needed be the strongest,
But rather the kindest and the wisest.

She is alpha because she has groomed the best and the most.
She can best mediate “contradictions” among the monkeys.
She carries herself with a confidence and poise that wins respect.
A nod from her can spring a group of sisters into action,
In the face of an obnoxious bonobo, fancy on the outside,
But lacking interior grace.


Sustainabilty, methinks, must be coupled with non-violent conflict resolution.

And introducing our culture to the recently discovered bonobos provides some “hard-wiring” evidence that we humans are not inescapably nasty, brutish, and violent.

The bonboos counter the notion that “our nature” is keeping us from evolving more enlightened forms of mutual aid. The bonobos offer evidence that we have within us the capacity to advance both self-reliance and community, ego and eco.

The Bonobos Are Threatened With Extinction

A recent talk at the Urban Ecology Center by Dr. Gay Reinartz of our Zoological Society brought this terrible news home. Here is the press release on Dr. Reinartz’s talk:

[The bonobos] face threats of poaching and habitat destruction in the conflict-riddled Congo, the only place in the world where they are found in the wild. Dr. Reinartz and the Zoological Society have been working to survey the bonobo population and its habitat; develop anti-poaching measures; build schools and provide agricultural and literacy training to the Congolese; and hire Congolese as researchers and park wardens. In addition to her efforts in Congo, where the Zoological Society has a research station in the world’s second largest rain forest, Dr. Reinartz is coordinator of the North American Bonobo Species Survival Plan for captive animals. The Milwaukee County Zoo has 20 of those bonobos, the world’s largest group in a zoo environment.

For the past decade, Dr. Gay E. Reinartz has ventured into the heart of Africa, braving bugs, heat, and thick rain forest to help conserve and protect the bonobo, an endangered great ape. Hear the Zoological Society of Milwaukee’s conservation coordinator talk about her work-and see photos she took in the field-at a presentation called “The 4th Great Ape-Rare and at Risk.” This one-hour talk is on Thursday, June 7, at 7 p.m. at the Urban Ecology Center, 1500 E. Park Place.

Dr. Reinartz will discuss her efforts to save the bonobos and other wildlife-and help the people who live near their habitat in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Bonobos are rare great apes that share 98% of their genetic identity with humans and show empathy for other creatures. Yet they face threats of poaching and habitat destruction in the conflict-riddled Congo, the only place in the world where they are found in the wild. Dr. Reinartz and the Zoological Society have been working to survey the bonobo population and its habitat; develop anti-poaching measures; build schools and provide agricultural and literacy training to the Congolese; and hire Congolese as researchers and park wardens.

In addition to her efforts in Congo, where the Zoological Society has a research station in the world’s second largest rain forest, Dr. Reinartz is coordinator of the North American Bonobo Species Survival Plan for captive animals. The Milwaukee County Zoo has 20 of those bonobos, the world’s largest group in a zoo environment. Dr. Reinartz’s work also was featured in the Zoological Society’s just-published book “Bonobos: Encounters in Empathy,” written and donated to the Society by Jo Sandin. For more information about the Zoological Society’s bonobo conservation program, visit www.zoosociety.org or call 4142582333.

Sunday Morning Conversations at the Riverwest Co-op With Dr. Gay Reinartz

If you would like to meet Dr. Gay Reinartz and learn about the bonobos and what we can do to prevent their extintion, please let me know.

Biodiversity in the Congo connects with sustainability in Milwaukee.

Godsil
http://www.milwaukeerenaissance.com/Bonobos/HomePage

Replies to Letter of June 30, 2007

Last edited by Olde.   Page last modified on June 30, 2007

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