Bonobo chimp threatened in Congo

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Wednesday, March 8, 2006

The Congo's population of Bonobo, or Pygmy, Chimpanzee (Pan paniscus) is dwindling, according to researchers.

Dr. Ino Guabini, a primatologist with the World Wildlife Fund reports that only about 5,000 remain in Congo. In 1984, their numbers were estimated at 100,000.

It is illegal to hunt Bonobos, but their meat is considered tasty; and is a traditional food in the Congo. The meat is often sent to expensive & secretive restaurants in Congolese cities.

The Bonobo is best-known for resolving squabbles through sex rather than violence. Rivals are greeted with genital handshakes and sensual body rubs. Fights are often settled with a "French kiss" and sex, either heterosexual or homosexual. Bonobo's communication is primarily vocal.

DNA evidence suggests that the Bonobo and Common Chimpanzee separated just 500,000 years after they diverged from the last common ancestor with humans, between four to seven million years ago. Chimpanzees are the closest living relatives to humans, and are an important research model in both biology and psychology.

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