In parts of Africa and Asia it is considered prestigious to serve guests freshly killed wild animals, and bonobos are often killed for just that purpose. This kind of delicacy, if you will, is called "bush meat." Impoverished DRC residents are also known to consume them.
They also are under the pressure of intense logging , much of their lives is spent in trees and political unrest in the DRC has made it difficult for the nation's leaders to develop any sustained preservation program. The DRC has a wealth of minerals and one in particular, Coltan, an essential mineral for cell phones, Play Stations and computer chips, is highly prized. The habitat of the bonobo is ground zero for conflict between Rwanda and Uganda-backed rebels and the government of the DRC to control the Coltan market.
Thus, bonobos face long odds for survival. Goodenough is part of a heroic effort to counter these actions. She has befriended conservationists Sally Coxe and Michael Hurley, a husband-wife team who, for a decade or better, have raised funds toward purchasing some of the bonobo habitat and turn it into conservation land, and established the Bonobo Conservation Initiative (BCI). In this effort, they have worked closely with the current leadership of the DRC.
"I first learned about bonobos by reading the story of Kanzi, who is actually a half-brother of Lucy, the title character" Goodenough said. "I attended a conference where I heard Sue Savage-Rumbaugh and her husband Duane of Emory University, who worked with Kanzi on his language skills, and then couldn't read enough about them. Their language capabilities intrigued me."
Goodenough also was fascinated by the fact that chimpanzees and bonobos last shared a common ancestor just two million years ago, and within that timeframe bonob
|Contact: Tony Fitzpatrick|
Washington University in St. Louis