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Pan paniscus | Bonobo 


Good spot: Lomako-Yokokala Faunal Reserve, Equateur Province, Democratic Republic of Congo



Taxonomy & Occurrence

Pan paniscus is a monotypic species (no subspecies). It occurs only in the Democratic Republic of Congo.


IUCN Conservation Status



While chimpanzees frequently hunt in groups for arboreal, group-living monkey species, bonobos are thought to focus on medium-sized terrestrial prey, such as forest antelopes, squirrels and other rodents, which are caught opportunistically by single individuals. The absence of monkey hunting by bonobos is often used to illustrate the divergent evolution of the two Pan species. We know that some bonobos eat rodents and small antelopes, albeit infrequently, but for quite sometime we assumed they didn’t consume other primates because they seemed to be placid maternally structured social beings. As I just mentioned, bonobos have been popularized by many to be a peace loving species, particularly because of the lack of male dominated social system and far less documented occurrences of physical violence.

Seeing this Species


Deni Béchard's Empty Hands, Open Arms: The Race to Save Bonobos in the Congo and Make Conservation Go Viral (2013) offers a splendid account of visiting the Bonobos. He highly recommends contacting the Bonobo Conservation Initiative if you'd like to plan a trip. Béchard features them in his book and describes them as an ideal conservation organization.



Lomako-Yokokala Faunal Reserve, Equateur Province, Democratic Republic of Congo

Here, you find approximately 3800 sq km of evergreen rain forest with some areas of dense undergrowth, permanently flooded swamps along the major rivers, and seasonally flooded swamp forest. The Lomako Forest is also home to a wide variety of animals including nine other primates.


More information on Lomako from University of Oregon. 


Probability of Success: low


Overlapping species: Dwarf Bushbaby, Potto, Black-and-White Colobus (not sure which one), Red Colobus, Red-Tailed Monkey, Wolf's Guenon, De Brazza's Monkey, Black Mangabey, Allen's Swamp Monkey


p.s. Despite their renowned gentle nature, Bonobo may prey on Black Mangabey, based on discovery of a Black Mangabey digit in the feces of Bonobo [1,2]... Prepare for what you might see in this Reserve where the two species overlap.


Other sites:


Tumba-Lediima Natural Reserve


Overlapping species: 


*Much of the research on bonobos was conducted at Wamba Forest but most of the population there has since been killed.


LuiKotale, southwestern tip of Salonga National Park, Demoratic Republic of Congo


Overlapping species: Golden-Bellied MangabeyNorthern Black Crested Mangabey, Red-Tailed Monkey, Wolf's Guenon, De Brazza's Monkey, Allen's Swamp MonkeyTshuapa Red Colobus, Angolan Black-&-White Colobus


More information:




Local contacts





[1] Surbeck M. and Hohmann G., 2008. Primate hunting by bonobos at Lui Kotale, Salonga National Park. Current Biology 18: R906-R907.

[2] Surbeck M., Fowler A., Deimel C. and Hohmann G., 2009. Evidence for the consumption of arboreal, diurnal primates by bonobos (Pan paniscus). American Journal of Primatology 71: 171-174.


Garbutt, Nick and Mick Unwin. 2007. 100 Animals to See Before They Die. Bradt Guides: Bucks, England.


Illustration: Author unknown. 1899 | Public Domain. Accessed via The Nash Collection of Primates in Art and Illustration. Local identifier: PCLArts.PCLA3414.bib




Page Last Updated: 24 November 2014

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