One of the threatened ape species in the world today is the Bonobo, a pygmy chimpanzee only found in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
These chimpanzee where discovered in the 1920s. Due to the excessive human activity around DRC like hunting for bush meat, war and mining, the Bonobo could be the first ape to be extinct.
In a bid to help save these threatened apes, conservation groups together with the government of DRC set up the Lola Ya Bonobo sanctuary near the capital Kinshasa which was home to the largest group of these chimpanzees as a protection area for these apes.
In the Dian Fossey the gorillas have their champion and so is Jane Goodall and Claudine Andre (founder of the Lola Ya Bonobo Sanctuary) to these chimpanzees.
The Sanctuary is meant mostly to rescue those chimpanzees that are put in captivity by the wrong people and those found in the market places.
Most of those saved are Juvenile Chimpanzee since they are small and are considered small to be sold for meat and are mostly kept as pets.
The Bonobos are very delicate creatures and may not survive for long as pets. In their first years usually five of life they cling on to their mothers and if kept as pets they may not get this love which leaves them terrified and isolated.
This sanctuary was set up in 1994 and is made up of two sections: the nursery (for the small and Juveniles) and the other section for the large enclosure.
Here a similar natural habitat is provided to ensure they feel like how they would have been in the wild. There is also a quarantine section for the sick and weak.
Sanctuary founder Claudine André points out that the biggest demand for bush meat comes from the cities – and hopes that educating the city populations about their natural heritage will help save the bonobo.
The name ‘bonobo’ seems to come from ‘Bolobo’, the name of a village on the Congo River where the first scientifically observed specimens came from.
Bonobos are similar to chimpanzees and humans in many aspects of their development. For example, they lose their milk teeth at between five and seven years and go through puberty between the ages of nine and 11.
They are often called the ‘gentle ape’, as they live in a society dominated by the females and resolve problems through sex.
Unlike other species which only mate at specific times during the female’s cycle for reproductive purposes, bonobos – like humans – also do so for fun.