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The Bonobo is found exclusively in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DCR). According to the World Worldlife Fund (WWF) there are currently 10,000-50,000 individuals left. Consequently, the Bonobo has been labelled as 'endangered'. The chimpanzee is very similar to the Bonobo and as such, they were not 'recognised as a separate species until 1929'

Baby Bonobo

Image Credit: Sebastian Niedlich via Flickr

The Bonobo is one of our 'closest living relatives...shar[ing] 98.7% of their genetic code with humans'. The species can grow to a maximum of four feet. Despite this, but sadly not unexpectedly, the species' decline and suffering is the direct consequence of human actions. 

Because the species live in only one country, the impacts of human actions are deeply felt throughout the population. The African Wildlife Foundation claims that 'recent surveys show that many areas had bonobos 20 years ago but now they have none'.

Bonobos, members of the great ape family

Image Credit: Psych USD via Wikipedia 

Why are they suffering?

The area surrounding the Bonobo's habitat in the DRC is suffering from 'civil unrest and increasing poverty'. This conflict has lead to a detrimental impact on the 'only four Bonobo strongholds'.

In addition, Bonobos are hunted for food, trading, to keep as pets, and 'for use in traditional medicine'.

The species are also victims of an increasing human population, as well as ''slash-and-burn agriculture and...logging'.

Roads of Lekoumou province, Congo

Image Credit: jbdodane via Flickr

WWF writes: 'Civil unrest in the region around the bobobo's home territory has led to many bonobo deaths, as gangs of poachers have been free to invade Salonga National Park, one of few protected areas for bonobos. 

'In addition, unrest has made modern weaponry and ammunition more available, enabling hunting, and the military has at times sanctioned the hunting and killing of bonobos.'

What is being done to save the Bonobo?

Organisations such as African Wildlife Foundation and WWF are working within the DRC to help protect remaining populations. 

AWF has created The Lomako Conservation Science Center, which 'supports wildlife surveys, training of Congolese researchers and developing wildlife conservation plans'.

As well as this, AWF works with communities, guiding them towards more Bonobo-friendly actions.

WWF are working to 'monitor populations' and 'protect the remaining habitats' and creating nature reserves.

Find out more about these efforts here.

Lead Image Credit: Fanny Schertzer via Wikimedia Commons 

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