Pan Paniscus "Bonobo" by Brett Weiss

What's a bonobo?

A Bonobo is a species of chimpanzee that share 98.7% of our human DNA, meaning these animals are closer related to us than gorillas. Bonobos are also extremely peaceful creatures, avoiding conflict with others entirely. In fact, the Bonobo is the only species of great ape that has never been seen kill another of their own kind. Bonobos do love to share, and feel empathy towards family and friends, but when given a choice, bonobos prefer to share food with strangers.

Why the Bonobo?

The Bonobo first got introduced to the endangered species list in 1996, but already had been on the vulnerable species list 10 years prior. Bonobos have been targets for hunting over the past 15-20 years but has significantly increased over the past 10. Habitat loss from de-forestation and other factors also contribute to the population decrease.

Geographic Location

Bonobos are only found in the jungles of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Making their survival based entirely off of the actions of those in the region.


Bonobos are the largest primate in their region, making the biggest threats to their existence humans. The biggest threats include poaching, habitat loss, and disease. Poachers hunt Bonobos due to their size and the demand for bushmeat in the villages. Subsistence agriculture, commercial agriculture, logging and road construction all cause forest loss and fragmentation; detrimental to the Bonobos homes and land. Bonobos living in close vacinity with humans and their communities or exposed to tourism have a high risk for disease.


The size of the Bonobo population is uncertain because only 30% of its historic range has been surveyed. It is estimated from the four known Bonobo strongholds, based around protected areas, suggest a minimum population of 15,000–20,000.

Population Trend

Like stated earlier, due to the excessive amounts of poaching and habitat loss the Bonobo population is decreasing and has been since 1986.

Habitat & Ecology

Bonobos inhabit closed, moist, mixed, mature and secondary forests as well as forest-savannah mosaics. In the eastern and southern parts of their range, Bonobos occupy a variety of moist tropical forest, dry forest, savannah woodland, marshy grassland and swamp forest, yet they also require access to relatively-undisturbed mature forests. If available, Bonobos prefer primary forests and seasonally-inundated swamp forests, foraging in small streams and breast-deep ponds. Bonobos make new nests each night, usually in different locations. Bonobos also do not migrate and are terrestrial. Bonobos are diurnal and semi-terrestrial. They live in multimale-multifemale, fission-fusion communities, usually made up of 30–80 individuals.


Besides hanging out in the forests and eating fruits; Bonobos have a larger impact on the ecosystem then one would think. Bonobos are seed dispersers, actually critical for forest regeneration. Bonobos are omnivores, over 50% of their diet consists of fruits and seeds. When the Bonobos defecate, they release seeds and nutrients back into the soil.


Luckily, there are a couple different efforts to try and save Bonobos. They consist of strengthening institutional capacity, consultation and collaboration with local actors, awareness building locally and internationally, research and monitoring activities, and sustainable funding.

Lola ya bonbo

"Bonobo Paradise"

Lola Ya Bonobo is a sanctuary run by Congolese women on the outskirts of Kinshasa. Lola Ya Bonobo means "bonobo paradise" in the local Lingala language. These women nurse bonobos like their own children, all the way up to adult hood. "The sanctuary was created by Claudine André, who encountered her first bonobo 20 years ago as a volunteer at a zoo in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It was a tiny, injured baby ape she initially mistook for a chimpanzee. The zoo director warned her not to get too attached, since the fragile animals were known to die in captivity. André considered it a challenge, and nursed the bonobo back to health." - CBS News


Fruth, B., Hickey, J.R., André, C., Furuichi, T., Hart, J., Hart, T., Kuehl, H., Maisels, F., Nackoney, J., Reinartz, G., Sop, T., Thompson, J. & Williamson, E.A. 2016. Pan paniscus. (errata version published in 2016) The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016:

"Facts About Bonobos." Lola Ya Bonobo. Ed. Vanessa Woods. Lola Ya Bonobo, n.d. Web. 07 Jan. 2017. <>.

News, CBS. "The Playful World of Baby Bonobos." CBS News. CBS Interactive, 07 Aug. 2016. Web. 08 Jan. 2017. <>.

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