Bonobo (Pan Paniscus)

Central Congo

Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Clade: Synapsida
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Family: Hominidae
  • Tribe: Hominini
  • Genus: Pan
  • Species: P. Paniscus

The Bonobo was the last great ape to be discovered in 1933. Today they are renowned as one of the most intelligent animals in the world. Known for their unique and complex social structure, peaceful, cooperative, matriarchal society and their remarkable sexual nature, they are quite remarkable.

Like that of humans, these primates engage in sex not just for procreation but also for pleasure. Studies have shown that these primates use sexual interaction to settle violence and aggression amongst their societies, resulting is an often conflict-free population. Like other great apes Bonobos can walk on two feet, without standing on two feet they can reach a height of 35 inches as adults and a weight of up to 86 pounds. Physically, they are very similar to chimpanzees, and share 98.7% of their DNA with us, making them alongside chimpanzees human’s closest living relatives.

Today, fewer than 20,000 bonobos are believed to remain in the Congo Basin, and The International Union for Conservation of Nature has listed Bonobos as an endangered species. Their natural habitat is become increasingly threatened by human activities such as agriculture, logging and bush meat hunting. The illegal trade in great apes to Asia and Africa is a great threat to Bonobos’ survival, with some Bonobos being sold for figures between $50,000 to $300,000 each to zoos, circuses and private individuals. The continuation of poverty in the area, sees many Bonobos be cruelly poached and captured on a daily basis, studies have revealed that if such human interference carries on, the decline of the Bonobo population will continue for the next 55 years, and could result in extinction.

The Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve harbours one of the largest known wild populations of the Bonobo. The reserve, which was established by Bonobo Conservation Initiative and the DRC government, is home to more than 1,000 of the endangered apes today. Conservation teams are working incredibly hard to protect the Bonobo’s habitat from deforestation and to continue to implement harsh consequences for those who poach and capture the animal.

Estimated Bonobo population figures between 2003 and 2016

As seen from the graph above, the Bonobo population is declining steadily. Since 2003, the wild Bonobo population has declined by approximately 55%, more than half of its original population back in 2003. Today the wild Bonobo population stands at an estimated 45,000 individuals, however that figure could be as low as just 10,000.

Between the years 2003 and 2016, the Bonobo population has seen an annual decline of around 5.95% or approximately 2,700 individuals. Should the current trends continue the wild Bonobo population could be extinct by 2033.

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