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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Helping Our Fragile Cousins - The Bonobos

I've been a loyal reader of Bonobo Handshake, Vanessa Wood's spectacular blog on her Bonobo research in Africa. Bonobo's are apes similar to Chimpanzee's in DNA but very different in behavior. Bonobos and Chimps were separated approximately 2 million years ago and have taken slightly different evolutionary paths. Bonobos, Chimps and Humans share a common ancestor and they are both the closest living relatives to Humans.

What makes Bonobos different from Chimps is that they are way less violent (they do not kill each other), they use sex as a form of communication, conflict resolution and for just plain old fun. They live in a remote area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and sadly there are only approximately 5000 of them left. Local Congolese hunt them for meat largely because of hunger. Due to war and chaos in the region there has been no local effort to protect the Bonobos. Protecting the Bonobos requires local support because of the Malaria infested areas of the remote jungle that they live in.

Claudine Andre founded Lola ya Bonobo, a forest sanctuary, to protect orphan Bonobos (orphaned when their parents are killed for meat). I have wanted to adopt a Bonobo for over a year now and a few days ago I adopted Kataco aka Kata. What the heck... let's make it in celebration of Darwin's birthday!!

Humane research is done on the Bonobo's at the sanctuary and they are working on a program to release them into the wild. As this will be needed in the future if their numbers dwindle.

For a breath-taking video on the abilities of Bonobo's check out this video on TED by Susan Savage.

Look how cute the baby Bonobos are... can you resist helping them?

By Peter


San said...

they are sooo cute! Love the story, thanks for sharing :)

Unknown said...

hi! it's vanessa from bonobo handshake! thank you so much for sponsoring kata and putting us on your blog - it's a fun read and well researched!

xx vanessa...

Ty said...

Hunting them is stupid, I am all for preventing hunting. We need as many as possible alive for medical experiments since they are so similar to us.