Today is Valentine’s day, a time known very well by many that celebrates love; but today is also a day that spreads awareness about one of our closest relatives-the bonobo. Today is also World Bonobo Day!
Two years ago, World Bonobo Day was created by faculty at UCSD to spread awareness about this endangered primate. This is a primate that we share 98.7% of our DNA with, yet so many people do not know much about the bonobo. They may know about the chimpanzee, another close relative, but they don’t know how vastly different they are in behavior and in demographic.
Chimpanzees and Bonobos do share some traits; so much so that bonobos used to be classified as a “pygmy chimpanzee. ” It wasn’t until 1929 til they were classified as a different species with traits that set them apart such as their parted hair and their pink lips.
Another difference between the bonobo and the chimpanzee is where they can be found. Some of us might know that chimpanzees can be found in parts of Africa, but bonobos live in a very specific part of Africa. Bonobos are only found in the Congo Basin in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
What sets the bonobo apart from the chimpanzee the most is how peaceful they are, more so than any other ape. This is because of their social structure. The females form alliances within their social group and as a result their social structure is egalitarian. In this egalitarian society bonobos are more willing to solve conflict and help others. Dr. Jingzhi Tan has conducted studies to show that a bonobo will help another bonobo, say gain a food source, even when they have nothing to gain.
Despite how peaceful bonobos are not enough kindness has been reciprocated back to to them. The IUCN reports that there could be as few as 15,000 individuals left in the wild. Factors like deforestation and the bush-meat trade (the hunting of primates for believed medicinal purposes) have led to the decline of the Bonobo.
Today is Valentines day, so lets show the bonobo some love! Educate your friends and family about the bonobo and check out https://bonoboproject.org/ to see what you can do to help. Bonobos are wonderful primates and they deserve more of our support.
If you want to learn about conservation and animals, visit Zovargo!