Partners Overview

Salonga Conservation Initiative (SCI)

The Salonga Conservation Initiative, Inc. (SCI) is a US-based, non-profit organization founded in 2020.  SCI’s mission is to support holistic conservation projects and biodiversity initiatives related to preserving the lowland forest ecosystem of the Salonga National Park and landscape.  Not only is the park the largest protected lowland forest in Africa, Salonga also harbors the world’s largest population of bonobos and has the best chance of recovering a self-sustaining forest elephant population.  Sheltering the headwaters of seven major rivers, it protects millions of inhabitants that depend on its generation of freshwater and productive fisheries.  Preservation of Salonga’s natural integrity depends on understanding the dynamic relationship between forests, hydrology, wildlife and humankind.


SCI believes that Salonga’s preservation will be enhanced by scientifically based management and support for effective and holistic conservation strategies.  Towards that end, working in collaboration with the park’s co-managers, WWF and ICCN, SCI supports biomonitoring and scientific research.  SCI’s field project, the Bonobo and Congo Biodiversity Initiative (BCBI), based at the Etate Research Station and Patrol Post, has surveyed bonobo and forest elephant populations in order to determine the relationship between environmental factors, specifically forest characteristics and hunting, and animal distribution and densities.  For the Watsi Kengo and Mondjoku Sectors, animal surveys are designed to assess the impact of management activities on wildlife occurrence.  Longitudinal studies and repeated surveys in these sectors have pinpointed important animal populations and poaching hotspots and how these parameters may have changed over time and/or as a consequence of specific law enforcement interventions.  SCI has further provided needed ancillary support to the park’s management unit to equip and enable patrols.


SCI recognizes that its role in conservation is to help develop skills in conservation methods and practices.  Accordingly, SCI seeks to encourage, by means of employment, grants and collaborations, further involvement of national researchers, students, and motivated park professionals to participate in research that applies to Salonga’s preservation and that highlights the park’s importance as a reservoir of unique biodiversity.


Additionally, SCI respects the indigenous knowledge and investment that local inhabitants possess and the need for them to be integrated into lasting conservation strategies.  SCI builds strong bonds with local communities.  One element of BCBI has been to support primary schools, village-based adult literacy programs, and community markets in villages bordering the Salonga River.  Reaching over 500 children each year, BCBI maintains neighborhood schools that would not exist in these enclaved communities otherwise.  Likewise, BCBI has arranged a guaranteed market with villagers to buy up to $10,000 of produce annually to feed project staff and researchers at Etate.


Despite its great size and importance, few people have ever heard of the Salonga National Park, and it has received relatively little attention as compared to other World Heritage Sites in DRC.  Hence, its development and financial support has lagged better-known sites.  SCI, therefore, hopes to enhance public awareness of the Salonga National Park, especially in the United States, as a reserve of global importance and meritorious of international support.