Deni Béchard discusses his new book Empty Hands, Open Arms: The Race to Save Bonobos in the Congo and Make Conservation Go Viral

November 16, 2013

Isobel Schneider
Berkeley Library


Berkeley-November 8, 2013 – Author Deni Bechard will discuss his newest book, Empty Hands, Open Arms: The Race to Save Bonobos in the Congo and Make Conservation Go Viral, in a free program at the Berkeley Public Library Central Library 2090 Kittredge Street, Sunday, November 17, 2013, at 2:00 pm, in the 3rd floor Community Meeting Room.

When acclaimed author Deni Béchard learned of the last living bonobos—great apes that are, along with chimpanzees, our closest relatives in the animal kingdom—he was astonished. How could the world accept the extinction of this majestic species, along with their rainforest home? Béchard discovered that one relatively small NGO, the Bonobo Conservation Initiative (BCI), has done more to save bonobos and their natural habitat than far larger organizations.

Based on extensive travels in the Congo and Rwanda, and hundreds of hours of interviews with conservationists, this book explores how BCI has been so successful. In contrast to many Western conservationists, BCI works closely with Congolese communities, addressing the underlying poverty and unemployment that lead to the hunting of bonobos. Deni Béchard is the author of a memoir, Cures for Hunger, and a novel, Vandal Love, which won the 2007 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. He writes for a wide range of publications, including the Los Angeles Times, Outside, and

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