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Happy World Bonobo Day

By Liz Clift

Last year, I wrote about bonobos, and The Bonobo Project. Bonobos, unlike the other great apes (humans included) have never been known to kill each other in the wild, which can make them especially interesting to people who study the behaviors of humans compared to other great apes.

Bonobos are endangered—estimates for wild populations are as low as 5,000, in part because of habitat destruction and habitat encroachment—which was made even worse by a civil war. They naturally only live in one part of the world—the Congo Basin of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  And, unfortunately, not enough people know about them. A lack of awareness about a species can mean a lack of money going toward research and conservation efforts.

The Bonobo Project, however, seeks to change this. February 14th is World Bonobo Day (because bonobos are most definitely lovers—people who study and work with bonobos talk about “the bonobo handshake” in reference to how bonobos use sexual contact as a means of building bonds and settling disagreements) and by sharing information about bonobos, you can help more people learn about bonobos.

bonobo-affection

Bonobos, affectionate primates. This image is courtesy of Lola ya Bonobo and Dr. Jingzhi Tan via The Bonobo Project website

 

Here are some articles where you can learn even more about bonobos—which will make you an absolute treat to be around this Valentine’s Day and beyond (we’re sure of it!):

  • The BBC asks “Do Bonobos Really Spend All their Time Having Sex?” The answer isn’t entirely straight-forward.
  • In a Scientific American article in 1995, primatologist Frans de Waal discussed how looking at the matriarchal structure of bonobo society calls into question the assumptions about male supremacy in human evolution (you must have a subscription to read this article).
  • Just because bonobos have never been known to kill each other in the wild doesn’t mean they aren’t aggressive. This New York Times article talks about aggression and female camaraderie in bonobo populations and what it means for male bonobos.
  • If you’re into genetics, Nature published an article on the bonobo genome, as it compares to chimp and human genomes.
  • Why else should you learn more about bonobos? Even Anderson Cooper is doing it.

 

Bonobos will need researchers, conservationists, and lots of regular folks helping raise awareness about their plight if they are to continue to survive and thrive.

Want to spread even more bonobo-love? Share one of these articles and use the hashtags #WorldBonoboDay or #IBonoboYou.

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