Humans closest relatives, not only chimps, but also bonobo

Initially called ‘pygmy chimpanzee’ and found only in lowland rainforest along the South bank of Congo River of Democratic Republic Of Congo, it is now an endangered great ape .

These primates share nearly 99% of our DNA like chimpanzees and are roughly the same size .

A bonono looking at viewer

Bonobo (Pan paniscus ) Scientific Classification

Bonobo : A bonono looking at viewer

Kingdom : Animalia

Phylum : Chordata

Class : Mammalia

Order : Primates

Family : Hominidae

Genus : Pan

Species : P. paniscus

Give A Look At Bonobo !

Being more gracile to chimpanzees, adult females are a bit smaller than male . Bonobos weigh anywhere between 34 – 60 Kg, with male averaging 45 Kg against females 33 Kg, while total length is 70 – 83 cm .

With whiskers hiding ears, these usually have dark brown and black fur, with red/pink lips and 32 teeth .

Standing between 28 – 35inches are known for their long legs and have flatter and smaller heads to other great apes .

A sitting bonobo (left) and chimpanzee (right)

Bonobo’s are omnivore frugivores, mostly eat fruits, also herbs, root, honey, eggs . Only eat meat small mammals like rodents available readily, and not forage for meat .

Unlike others, bonobos live in matriarchal society with elder females having final say, but have an alpha male to protect the group .

It’s a highly intelligent species, uses a series of sounds translated according to context where meaning of the same sound differs .

These have promiscuous nature, gestation lasts for 8 months, mothers protect young until about 4 years and males arrange food .

Bonobo cub on the mother’s back in natural habitat

Bonobos live up to 40 years in captivity while in the wild it’s unknown .


Bonobo uses hand gestures to convey meaning and also proven examples of this usage of these signals to communicate with humans .

They can recognise themselves in the mirror like most great apes .

According to a study bonobos should abide by politeness theory like humans ( i.e. our actions are calibrated to key dimensions of social relationship via acts of politeness) .

Bonobos Intriguing facts

Though discovered in 1929, it became a species only in the 1950s

It’s fur may turn silver with age, distinctive from others; bonobos keep their tail tuft throughout adult lives.

A study in 2021, discovered infant adoption by female bonobos of other groups, being the first such case in great apes .

Display compassion, empathy to an unknown wounded and share food, shelter and necessities with other bonobos .

These are documented to be more socially tolerant and egalitarian than other great apes .

Threats And Prevention

Deforestation, human poaching and continued habitat loss are some of the biggest threats the great ape population faces today, as they spend most of their time up on trees .

As they are found only between two rivers, crocodiles are also a serious predatory threat to bonobos .

This endangered species has an estimated population of 29,000 – 50,000, with population sharply declining in the past 30 years .

Multiple NGOs and organisation such as World Wide Fund For Nature, African Wildlife Foundation with grants from the United Nations, USAID and others are working towards focusing attention on extreme risk to the species with:

Surveying the bonobo population ,

Developing anti poaching measures and ,

Educating, training and creating awareness among the local population .

By – Yash Kumar Sonkar

Content Writer (Erakina by RTMN)

Date – 09/12/2021

One Comment

  1. Issa

    Go Primates 🙌🏽

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