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Bonobo | Endangered Species Series


Bonobo (Pan paniscus)

Quick Facts:

Status: ENDANGERED

Population: 10,000 - 50,000 individuals

Height: 28 - 35 in

Weight: 68 - 86 lbs

Habitat: Rainfoorest

Range: Congo Basin

Diet: Frugivores - half their diet is fruit, supplemented with insects, worms, eggs, and small animals

The bonobo, also known as the pygmy chimpanzee, is smaller, leaner, and darker than the chimpanzee with pink lips and a smaller head and ears, though they both share 98% of their DNA with humans - making them our closest relatives. Socially, bonobos are more peaceful than chimpanzees and family groups are led by females. They settle disputes and maintain their relationships through sex. Though their group lives are peaceful, if two separate groups happen upon each other they may engage in violence.

Wild bonobos are found in the forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo. They were not identified as a separate species until 1929 and much is still unknown about them - including the full extent of their range. Surveying the species has been difficult due to the remote nature of their habitat and the persistent civil unrest in the DRC.

Poaching for meat, trade, medicinal purposes and to keep them for pets, as well as deforestation are the leading threats to the bonobo population. The civil unrest and increasing poverty surrounding their forest homes have greatly contributed to these threats. Though the size of the bonobo population is largely unknown, it is believed that they have been in decline for 30 years and will continue to decline for the next 45 or 50 years. A low reproduction rate and growing threats to the species will greatly impact the rate of decline moving forward.

Sources: World Wildlife Fund and Bonobo Conservation Initiative


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