Human history has been traced back thousands and tens of thousands of years to the great apes. The evolution of modern humans as they are known today can be linked to and possibly attributed to the ancestors, great apes. It could be said that without great apes, humans today would not be the same. After all, humans and great apes share 99% of the same genome. Now these ancestors are in danger, they face extinction. Not only one species of great ape, but all of them are currently facing the threat of becoming obsolete. One article states that most of the ape populations in the world range somewhere from 'endangered' to 'critically endangered’ ("Facing Up To Endangered Apes", 2003). The same article predicts that within the next fifteen years, only 10% of apes’ virgin habitat in Africa will still exist ("Facing up To Endangered Apes", 2003). Of the great apes, the species confronted with the largest threat are Pan paniscus, or bonobo apes who are endemic to the lowland rainforests of the Democratic Republic of Congo (referred hereafter as “DRC”) (Hickey et. al., 2013). According to the IUCN Red List (Fruth et. al., 2008) bonobos have been classified as an endangered species since 1996 but were labeled as vulnerable in 1986. Speculative estimates put the bonobo population at between 29,500 and 50,000 individuals although there are no completely accurate numbers and any estimate should be approached with caution (Fruth et. al., 2008). Numerous factors contribute to the elimination of bonobos as a species including but not limited to; illicit trade, habitat loss from deforestation and development, war, political and economic conflict. All of these play some part in the decline of the bonobo population and will lead to the eventual extinction of the species unless there is drastic interference and change.
Background and Habitat of the Bonobos
The bonobo, also called a pygmy chimpanzee, is smaller in size and more gracile than the common chimpanzee. Although they are a different species than chimpanzees, they share similar traits and live in a similar area of the planet. Bonobos societies are complex and matriarchal. Social bonds and many situations are constructed and manipulated though sexual behaviors. They also use sexual behaviors to diffuse tension within their society unlike the chimpanzee who are very aggressive.
Bonobos inhabit a low-lying area of the Congo Basin within the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the south of the Congo River. The habitat is defined by the Congo River to the north and west, the Lualaba River on the east, and the Kasai and Sankuru Rivers to the south. It is known that bonobos tend to occupy secondary and inundated forests in addition to forest-savannah composites in the southern area of their known range (Nackoney, 2014). According to the article by Hickey, bonobos live in areas away from high human activity and avoid forest fragmentation. This indicates that humans have an impact on the habitat of bonobos and can...