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Improving living conditions

Another field of action of Bonobo Alive is the support of initiatives aimed at improving the living conditions of people sharing their habitat with bonobos. There is evidence that the attention given to people and their needs has positive effects on how conservation is perceived. One area of particular importance is medical care. Here, a field that was notoriously underdeveloped was ophthalmology. Bonobo Alive has provided logistic support enabling the director of a local health center to travel to a mission hospital for training. The training included diagnostic and surgical procedures. Today, the physician successfully treats age- and infection-related visual disorders, as well as eye injuries.

Bonobo Alive supported staff of the Robert Koch Institute Berlin, Germany, in carrying out a representative survey of the health status of villagers, their domestic animals and those hunted for subsistence. Focus of this initiative was an investigation of the disease transfer between animals and humans with the goal to provide practical advice on how to prevent the transfer of zoonotic diseases. Of particular interest are diseases for which humans and bonobos are equally susceptible. The risk of disease transfer is particularly high where both species use the same resources, as pathogens harmless for humans may have fatal consequences for apes. Therefore, all employees of the research project, as well as people conducting actions supported by Bonobo Alive, wear surgical masks preventing the transfer of respiratory diseases.