Updated 10:17 PM EDT, Wed, Apr 21, 2021

Bonobos in Serious Danger of Losing Their Habitat Range Thanks to Human Activity

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Bonobos, our sexually active cousins, are rapidly losing their place in the world thanks to humans and could soon face insurmountable odds, a new study finds. The assessment, the most detailed habitat survey of the bonobos to-date, finds that forest fragmentation and poaching are the chief culprits.

"For bonobos to survive over the next 100 years or longer, it is extremely important that we understand the extent of their range, their distribution, and drivers of that distribution so that conservation actions can be targeted in the most effective way and achieve the desired results," said Ashley Vosper from the Wildlife Conservation Society.

The study found that bonobos avoided places with high human activity and forest damage. Data from nest counts and remote sensory images showed only 28 percent of the bonobo's potential range remains habitable to these great apes that were formerly known as pygmy chimpanzees. Unlike the chimpanzee, however, bonobos have been known to use sex as a way of relieving tension and settling disputes.

"Bonobos are probably the least understood great ape in Africa, so this paper is pivotal in increasing our knowledge and understanding of this beautiful and charismatic animal."

The study, published in the journal Biodiversity and Conservation, involved the international efforts of the University of Georgia, University of Maryland, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Congolese Wildlife Authority, African Wildlife Foundation, Zoological Society of Milwaukee, World Wildlife Fund, Max Planck Institute, Lukuru Foundation, University of Stirling, Kyoto University, and more.

The researchers involved hope that by providing a detailed, encompassing look at bonobo ranges, humans can learn to live with the great apes and give them the space they need to survive.

Bonobos, along with chimpanzees, are the closest living relatives to humans. They can live up to 40 years in captivity.

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