The Bili Forest is located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa in the Bas-Uele District. It lies between the Ubangui River to the north and the Uele River to the south, and is named after the small nearby town of Bili (coordinates 4°9'N 25°10'E) which is about 200 km east of Bondo and 250 km north of Buta. Bondo and Bili are accessible only by earth tracks impassable after rain (the Vicicongo narrow gauge railway which served the region is defunct). The region is very unstable and virtually lawless, due to a lack of governmental services as the country recovers slowly from civil warfare. Human encroachment into the region, other than annual burning of the savannahs, is minimal but hunting is prevalent.
The forest comprises a complex mosaic habitat, consisting of savannah, savannah-woodland, regenerating forest and gallery forest. The area is rich in African fauna typifying both savannah and forest habitats, including: elephants, lions, hyenas, leopards, giant forest hogs, giant pangolin, baboons, grey-cheeked mangabeys, red-tailed guenons, and buffalo.
In addition, a population of great apes living in the Bili Forest has intrigued experts. Known as the 'Bili apes' or 'Bondo mystery apes', they appear to blend characteristics of chimpanzees and gorillas. Initial results from mitochondrial DNA analysis indicate that they are chimpanzees.
There is a very serious problem of bush meat poaching in the Bili Forest, affecting the elephant and chimpanzee populations. If the forest's chimpanzees and their habitat are to be protected effectively, a serious conservation project is imperative.
- Michelin Motoring and Tourist Map: "Africa Central and South". Michelin Travel Publications, Paris, 2000.
- Hicks, Cleve. "The Bili Chimpanzees" on The Wasmoeth Wildlife Foundation website - Please see Cleve Hicks' new updates on this site, 'Field Season 2004-2005: Into the World of the Bili Apes,' and 'Field Season 2006-2007: A New Beginning.' Photos and films of the Bili apes are presented to the public for the first time.
- Hicks, Cleve. "The Bili Apes Are in Trouble!". September 17, 2007. The Bili area has been invaded by gold miners, putting at risk the Bili apes and their pristine habitat. A report by Cleve Hicks of the Bili Apes Project, at Richard Dawkins.net (also available, with photos, at the Friends of Washoe site )
- KarlAmmann.com - The Bondo Mystery Apes: Winter 2004 Field Data
- Primates.com - Seeking answers to big 'mystery ape'
- WorldWildlife.org - Congo Basin: About the Region
- NationalGeographic.com - Elusive African Apes: Giant Chimps or New Species?
- JaneGoodall.org - Jane Goodall Institute
- Animal-Rights-Library.com - Jane Goodall: Chimpanzees - Bridging the Gap