Knowing the Bonobo

Lulu the Bonobo

Though Bonobos are not the most endangered species in the world, they are still at a low number, especially in the wild. A compelling reason Bonobos specifically should matter to people is the fact that they share 98.7 percent of their genetic code with humans. This makes bonobos the closest living relative to humans, yet there is still much unknown about them.

Bonobo Facts

What we do know about bonobos is that their society is dominated by the female, not the male. They also use sex over violence to solve disputes the majority of the time. In fact, another similarity between humans and bonobos is the recreational sexual intercourse in which they participate, unlike other animals that use sex only for procreation.

Problems for the Bonobo

Unfortunately, it’s not always so fun to be a bonobo; after all, they are on the endangered species list. The only place in the wild that the bonobo has residence is south of the Congo River in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Likely the largest problem for the bonobo at this point is the civil unrest and poverty of the people surrounding the forest. Not only is deforestaion destroying the home of the bonobo, but the animals themselves are being used as commodities. Poaching is very common because the people use bonobos as a food-source either to eat or trade, they make charms out of body parts (like rabbits feet), keep them as pets, and/or use them in medical experiments.

What is Being Done to Help?

There are organizations around the world that are making efforts to alleviate the loss of the bonobos and their habitat. The World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) is working with the Congolese Wildlife Authority (ICCN) to decrease the poaching of the bonobo in Salonga National Park, part of the bonobos’ protected area. WWF is providing training, communication and field equipment, and better transportation to ICCN, as well as trying to establish funding for anti-poaching activities. There was also a recent discovery of a dense patch of wild bonobos in the Télé-Lac Tumba Landscape in DRC, for which WWF helped fund a Nature Reserve.

What Can WE do to Help?

There are many ways we can contribute to the effort to save the bonobos. We are always able to write to the government and plead for them not to cut funds towards conservation efforts, and even allocate more funds to them. We can also donate our own funds to WWF or other conservation organizations that will put the money to good use. There is even an option WWF’s website to “adopt” a bonobo, basically a symbolic gesture to donate money towards the conservation of not only bonobos, but all endangered species. Here is the link to their website


Photos (In Order)