The bonobo is smaller in size and more slender in build than the common chimpanzee. The great ape's social structure is complex and matriarchal. Unlike the common chimpanzee, bonobos establish social bonds and diffuse tension or aggression with sexual behaviors.
The entire range of the bonobo lies within the lowland forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa and currently beset with warfare and insecurity. The research team created a predictive model using available field data to define bonobo habitat and then interpolated to areas lacking data. Specifically, the team compiled data on bonobo nest locations collected by numerous organizations between the years 2003-2010. This produced 2364 "nest blocks," with a block defined as a 1-hectare area occupied by at least one bonobo nest.
The group then tested a number of factors that addressed both ecological conditions (describing forests, soils, climate, and hydrology) and human impacts (distance from roads, agriculture, forest loss, and density of "forest edge") and produced a spatial model that identified and mapped the most important environmental factors contributing to bonobo occurrence. The researchers found that distance from agricultural areas was the most important predictor of bonobo presence. In addition to the discovery that only 28 percent of the bonobo range is classified as suitable for the great ape, the researchers also found that only 27.5 percent of that suitable bonobo habitat is located in existing protected areas.
"Bonobos that live in closer proximity to human activity and to points of human access are more vulnerable to poaching, one of their main threats," said Dr. Janet Nackoney, a Research Assistant Professor at University of Maryland and second author of the study. "Our results point to the need for more places where bonobos can be safe from h
|Contact: John Delaney|
Wildlife Conservation Society