Bonobos, one of the rarest species of apes in the world, are struggling for survival in the Congo. The chimpanzees’ cousin is often referred to as the “hippies” of the ape kingdom. Bonobos typically share an affectionate and peaceful existence. Just like the long-haired “Aquarius” singers of the late 1960s, they bonobos prefer to make love not war.
Chimpanzees and bonobos share 98.7 percent of the DNA with humans, according to a CNN report. Unlike the larger species of apes, the bonobo species shies away from violent conflicts, groom one another, willingly share their food, and build close and intimate relationships.
One would think that the bonobos of the Congo would be living a utopian lifestyle with their overtly social and affable nature, but it just isn’t so. The rare ape species is suffering due to habitat threats brought on by decades of deforestation and violent clashes between their warring human neighbors.
Bonobos live among the lowland rainforest along the bank of the Congo River. Violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which began anew in the past several months, further threatens the gentle ape’s native environment. Animal conservationists are concerned that the ongoing instability in the Congo make it virtually impossible to research the bonobo population and discover exactly how many of the rare apes are still roaming in the wild.
War in the Congo is not the only obstacle the bonobos are facing. Expansion of the bushmeat trade has threatened the presumably dwindling population as well. Dominique Morel of the Friends of the Bonobos group had this so say about the plight of the apes:
“The decade of war in the late 1990s resulted in extensive population displacement, military rebel movements and a greater availability of firearms and ammunition, which contributed to increased hunting of wildlife, including bonobos.”