Six bonobos, a species of chimpanzee, have died from a flu epidemic in a month at the Lola Ya Bonobo in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Ten more have contracted the flu.
“There is no fever. Antibiotics don’t do anything. The bonobos have severe respiratory infections and then they can’t breath for 3 days then they die,” writes a staff member on the sanctuary’s blog through the conservation organization WildlifeDirect. The staff of Lola Ya Bonobo have sent out a plea for help and donations, as the flu continues to sweep through their center.
Infant bonodo Kindu died of the flu. Photo courtesy of WildlifeDirect and Lola Ya Bonobo.
Located in sixty acres of forest, the Lola Ya Bonobo sanctuary is a place for bonobos who have been confiscated by police following attempts to sell them to pet markets in the US, Europe, or Middle East. The sanctuary provides rehabilitation for the bonobos and educates the local populace about the apes in an effort to curb hunting bush meat, one of the major threats to bonobos and apes across Africa. The center eventually hopes to reintroduce some of the bonobos back into the wild.
Bonobos are smaller than Common chimpanzees. They also sport pink lips and a black face. Behaviorally, bonobos are quite different from common chimpanzees. Whereas common chimpanzees live in patriarchal groups, bonobo groups are dominated by females. They are less violent than chimpanzees and do not engage in warfare like common chimpanzees. In addition, bonobos are famous for their sexual openness, including using sexual activity as a greeting and a way of mitigating conflict.
Bonobos are listed as endangered by IUCN’s Red List. Only found in the DRC estimates of their population vary widely, from 5,000 to 50,000 individuals. Bonobos are threatened by habitat loss, deforestation, the pet trade, the bushmeat market, and even for use in witchcraft.
For WildlifeDirect Conservation Organization: http://wildlifedirect.org/
Lola Ya Bonobo blog: http://lolayabonobo.wildlifedirect.org/
For Lola Ya Bonobo sanctuary website: http://www.friendsofbonobos.org
Dedicated rock-throwing chimp proves longterm planning
Biologists have suspected for a long time that animals other than humans are capable of making plans for future events, but it has proven difficult to show conclusively. However, a new study in Current Biology claims the first unambiguous evidence of an animal premeditating. Mathias Osvath of Lund University in Sweden has spent a decade observing a male chimpanzee in a zoo collecting stones, making them into concrete discs, and then throwing them at zoo visitors.
Côte d'Ivoire's endangered chimp population falls 99% since 1960
The population of West African chimpanzees living in Côte d'Ivoire has collapsed due to hunting and forest destruction, report scientists writing in the October 14th issue of Current Biology.
Rwanda launches reforestation project to protect chimps, drive ecotourism
conservationists in Rwanda have launched an ambitious reforestation project that aims to create a forest corridor to link an isolated group of chimpanzees to larger areas of habitat in Nyungwe National Park. The initiative, called the Rwandan National conservation Park, is backed by the Rwandan government, the Great Ape Trust of Iowa, and Earthpark, a group seeking to build an indoor rainforest in the U.S. Midwest.
Dirt-munching helps protect chimps from malaria
Soil ingestion helps chimps protect themselves from malaria, reports a new study published in the journal Naturwissenschaften. Apparently geophagy, as the deliberate behvaior is known, increases the potency of ingested plants with anti-malarial properties.
Rainforest Reserve Established in DR Congo to save bonobo
The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has announced the creation of a 11,803-square mile rainforest reserve to protect the habitat of the endangered bonobo, the so-called “peaceful chimp”. The reserve is located in the Sankuru region, an area that experienced extensive fighting during the long-running civil war in the Congo.
Researchers head to Congo to study Bonobo psychology
Researchers have gone to the Democratic Republic of Congo to study the social behvaior of bonobos — a close relative of the chimpanzee — in the Lola ya Bonobo Sanctuary in Kinshasa.