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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Species Fact Profile: Bonobo (Pan paniscus)

Bonobo (Pygmy Chimpanzee)
Pan paniscus (Schwarz, 1929)

Range: Democratic Republic of Congo
Habitat: Lowland Rainforest
Diet: Fruits, Nuts, Stems, Shoots, Leaves, Roots, Tubers
Social Grouping: Mixed-sex groups of up to 150, usually splitting into smaller groups for feeding and foraging of about 5-10 individuals
Reproduction: Polyandrous, females will mate with any male in the group except for their sons.  Gestation period 240 days.  Single infant weaned for four years.  Independent at 7-9 years old.  Sexually mature at 10-15 years old.
Lifespan: 35-45 Years
Conservation Status: IUCN Endangered, CITES Appendix I

  • Body length 70-84 centimeters, weight 30-45 kilograms.  Males are larger than females.  Despite alternative common name, bonobos are not particularly smaller than chimpanzees, though they tend to be more slender
  • Skin and fur are black, though the later tends to turn grey with age
  • Males have a loose dominance hierarchy and stay with their natal group for life.  Females generally disperse during adolescence
  • Most famous for their use of sexual intercourse in non-reproductive social contact.  Have sex (heterosexual or homosexual, anal or genital) for purposes of conflict resolution or group bonding.
  • Very arboreal, climb searching for food, rest in nests in the trees.  When on the ground primarily walk on their knuckles, but can walk bipedally for a short distance
  • Primarily herbivorous, but will eat meat when it is available.  Have been observed hunting squirrels and other small vertebrates, up to the size of duikers
  • Humans are the only known predators, although it has been speculated that leopards and pythons will also prey upon bonobos
  • Along with the chimpanzee, the bonobo is believed to be the closest living relative to modern humans
  • Very intelligent.  Are known to utilize tools and to be able to recognize themselves in mirrors
  • Name "pygmy chimpanzee" is thought to be associated with the "pygmy" people of the Congo, who share territory with the species.  The name "bonobo" is believed to come from a corruption of the name of a town on the Congo River, near where the first specimen was found
  • Threatened by habitat loss and degradation (having a very small natural range to begin with), compounded by ongoing war in the Congo region of Africa.  Also threatened by the bushmeat trade, though historically was protected by cultural taboos

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