The Bonobos are rare species of monkeys that are only found in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Their total population is estimated to be 10,000. Their specific habitat are; between the Congo and the Lomami rivers, between the Kasai and Sankuru rivers, and the Lake Tumba region. These areas represent the Congo basin, a region that is known to be the second largest rainforest globally. Their habitat can be approximated to be an area of 500000 square Kilometers.
The Bonobos monkeys are relatively similar to human kind. They share more than 98% of the humans DNA. More significantly, these apes possess profound intelligence, and express emotions as well as sensitivity. The Bonobo society maintains tranquility as opposed to the competitive society of their counterparts, the Chimpanzees. Additionally, the society is mainly female-dominated as compared to the male-dominated culture of chimpanzees. In comparison to humans, sexual activity usually transcends the process of reproduction, and it is mainly undertaken to initiate and maintain bonding, share pleasure and reduce tensions. The Bonobos are the most vocal apes and they make use of complex vocalization to communicate among themselves. In addition, these apes are caring and compassionate, and hence serve as a powerful symbol of peace and coordination.
However, these exceptional apes are faced with the danger of extinction, as classified by the IUCN Red List. The rate of their population decline surpasses that of their increase by far, resulting in an overall reduction in their numbers. There are several factors that have contributed to the scenario being experienced regarding the population nature of the Bonobos. These factors are mainly related to human activities, and they include;
The DRC has had a history of political instability that led to wars between the rebels and the government. The rebels usually took to the forest to hide and plan the course of their attacks, therefore, disrupting the living pattern of the Bonobos. In addition, the rebels and their opponents made the forest their battle field, an experience that threatened the lives of many Bonobos. Some of the monkeys were killed and several forced to free from these areas. The areas where they landed was unsuitable for habitation, and therefore many died. Additionally, the fighters would cut trees to make their shelter and also create fires which, largely disrupted the lives of the Bonobos. Given that the Bonobos are known to be peaceful creatures, they would not retaliate to the human activities or cope up with the newly created hostile environment, and this forced many of them to migrate to lesser suitable areas, where most died.
Logging and lumbering are activities that have been utilized by humans as a way of earning a living. Over the years, these activities have been multiplying leading the people to move into the rainforest where they can obtain suitable trees to sustain their activities. These often leads to the destruction of the Bonobos’ habitat as well as disrupting their lifestyle. There has also been an increase in demand for the wood related products such as charcoal, firewood, furniture, and paper. Though the government and forest reserve organization have made an effort of prohibiting further logging and lumbering, the lucrative business has made this strategy almost impossible.
- Increasing human population
The human population is increasing at an alarming rate. This has resulted in massive deforestation as people try to create land for settlement as well as for agricultural activities. The human birthrate in conjunction with increased migration to areas that have favorable conditions for agricultural activities are among the factors that have contributed to forests being cleared. Additionally, humans have a high demand for the tree derived products for building shelter and making furniture. Furthermore, roots and backs from certain trees in the natural forests serve for medicinal purposes. The increased population of humans has also led to competition of food with the Bonobos given that they are essentially vegetarians and frugivores. Human encroachment to the Bonobos environment also leads to transmission of diseases to the apes, which become heavily impacted. Essentially, the Bonobos are unable to cope with the diseases given that mostly they do not get treatment. Subsequently many of the infected apes die resulting in a reduction on their population.
Poaching is an illegal activity that has massively led to the decline in the population of the Bonobos. Some of the people hunt these apes for medicinal and magical purposes. Those who take the meat from these animals usually have a belief that they will get healed of certain ailments or achieve extraordinary strengths after they feast on specific body parts of the Bonobo monkey. A majority of the local population usually depend on wildlife for protein supply. They, therefore, poach for the wild animals including the Bonobos so they can obtain meat for consumption.
- Low reproduction rate of Bonobos
The population of the Bonobos is shrinking fast while their reproduction happening at a slow rate. This is due to the occurrence that the females reach sexual maturity at the age of twelve, when they can give birth. However, the rate of birth is kept at one infant for every five to six years. The females tend to take care of their young ones for an approximate period of five years, and, therefore, do not give birth to another infant until five years elapse. As a consequence, the rate of population growth is minimal.
The Bonobos are important within the ecology especially given that they share 98% similarity with the humans in the genetic code properties. This means that they qualify as the closest to humans in the animal classification. As was mention above, they also exhibit some of the characteristics common to human beings such as being compassionate, using vocals to share information, and taking care of their young ones for almost more than five years. Moreover, these apes have been observed to maintain peace among their society. They also build nests for shelter on the trees. This is done to enforce security against attacks and threats from predators and unfavorable weather respectively. This species was discovered in 1929, thus the latest to be discovered in the line of apes. It is therefore of great importance to safeguard against its extinction. Sustaining this species would provide ample time for thorough study of the Bonobos as well as unravelling whether evolution will occur to ultimately end up with creatures that wholly resemble the human race.
Given the numerous challenges that contribute towards the reduction of Bonobos monkeys, the government and organizations, such as UNEP, are taking initiatives to curb the situation. Some of the responses are as follows;
- Promoting an international strategy to ensure the survival of Bonobos. In this initiative, the organizations are deploying experts to carry out scientific research aimed at generating information essential for the survival of the Bonobos.
- Establishing the potential areas where the Bonobos live and monitoring their populations. The process also aims at creating a database for the population data. This will contribute in knowledge about the state of the population as well aid in determining the effort required to maintain a desired population.
- Another initiative is involving the communities, which live in the surrounding environment, in the process of conserving the population of Bonobos. The African Wildlife Foundation, for instance, has incorporated the needs of the communities in their process of instituting measures that will alleviate the current state of the Bonobos’ population. Additionally, the organization is educating the communities on the importance of conserving the habitats of the Bonobos, which is in line with environmental conservation.
- There has been development and advocacy for new strategies in terms of economic activities and feeding habits. The communities are being encouraged to find alternative sources of proteins especially from domestic animals. The domestic animals can reproduce at a faster rate than the Bonobos given that their reproduction is only dependent on the gestation period, which is shorter than the period that Bonobos take before they give birth to another offspring.
In conclusion, the Bonobos monkeys’ species is endangered. As has been exemplified above, their habitat destruction and poaching are the main factors that threaten their survival. These animals are important in the ecosystem especially given that they are closest to humans in respect of their characteristics, behavior and their genetic code. In the process of ensuring their survival, organization have taken initiatives such as; educating the communities, presenting alternatives for protein and protecting the Bonobos’ habitat.
In the future, the government or organizations should enforce laws that safeguard against encroaching of wildlife habitats by the human populace. In addition, strategies should be developed fast to curb activities that pose as a threat to animal life, as well as the environment.
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