Today is World Bonobo Day. We take a look at this endangered species of great apes.
Bonobos look very similar to chimpanzees, however are completely different in nature to chimps. They diverged from each other about two million years ago. Bonobos do not hunt in groups or use tools as chimpanzees do. They are smaller than chimps and were also known as the pygmy, dwarf or gracile chimpanzee. Whereas chimps are male dominant and have a strict hierarchy in which aggression and intimidation are used to keep the group structure in place, bonobos are female dominant, and it’s all about loving one another and avoiding conflict!
According to the Max Planck Institute use same sex socio-sexual contact in the following ways:
- Social bonding
- pairing, including all ages and sex combinations
- reducing of tension
- eliciting social or food benefits
- As greeting, and for conflict resolution
The bonoboproject.org states that the main issues facing bonobos are, ‘poaching, the bushmeat trade, habitat destruction, forest fragmentation, weak law enforcement, logging, mineral exploitation, human population growth, disease and destructive subsistence farming’.
Because of the ongoing conflict and instability in the DRC, the habitat of the bonobos deep in the Congo Basin and a lack of funding, researchers face many obstacles in trying to maintain detailed and up to date research information on these gentle apes.
There are an estimated 10 to 20 000 left in the wild. They are endangered and face ‘a very high risk of extinction in the near future’.