Bonobo


The bonobo (Pan paniscus) is classified as Endangered (EN A4cd) on the IUCN Red List 2008 (Fruth et al., 2008) indicating that it has a very high risk of extinction in the wild in the near future. It is also listed on Appendix I of CITES.

Bonobos occur only in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). They have a discontinuous range in the central Congo Basin of Equatorial Africa, south of the Congo River and are confined to an island-block of forest comprising approximately one-fifth of DRC (Thompson, in press). Their range extends from the Lualaba River in the east, to the Lubefu River south of the Kasai/Sankuru River system, and west as far as Bolobo village and around the Lake Tumba/Lac Ndombe area (Thompson, in press; Fruth et al., 2008). Bonobos have recently been found to inhabit a forest block shouldering the right bank of the Lubefu River, an area south of the Kasai/Sankuru River system previously believed to be the southern limit of their distribution. This is an exciting finding as it expands known bonobo range (Thompson, in press). Recent surveys suggest a total bonobo population approximating 50,000 (Thompson, in press) but whilst this is greater than previously estimated these numbers should be interpreted with caution as the overall trend is one of decline (Fruth et al., 2008). Uncertainty surrounding their range and number reflects the challenging political environment in which conservation practitioners operate. To learn more about their distribution please activate the Pan paniscus range layer in the interactive map.

Compiled and edited by Kay H. Farmer
Reviewed by Jo Thompson and Barbara Fruth

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