Wildlife Wednesday: Matriarch Special Bonobo (Pygmy Chimpanzees)

28 Aug

Wildlife Wednesday: Women’s Month Matriarch Special

Bonobo (Pygmy Chimpanzees).

The name “bonobo” first appeared in 1954, when it was proposed as a new generic term for pygmy chimpanzees.

The name is thought to be a misspelling on a shipping crate from the town of Bolobo on the Congo River, which was associated with the collection of chimps in the 1920s.

The term has also been reported as being a word for “ancestor” in an extinct Bantu language.

They have a unique social structure. Matriarchal led Bonobo societies are relatively peaceful societies with squabbles very rarely leading to serious violence.

The bonds between female Bonobos are strong, with the older females rushing to the defence of younger family members if they are put in compromising positions by mature males.

Even though the female bonds are so strong, Bonobo society do not exclude forming bonds with males at some level too. Lower ranks of Bonobo societies are gender-balanced, but the highest-ranking individuals in any family group are always the old females.

As is customary in the matriarch society, Bonobos benefit from following the matriarch due to her wealth of knowledge on where to find food and resources.

Matriarchal bonds and benefits extend through to their sons, giving them preference to mating rights as well as dominance over older males who are not in the same bloodline of the matriarch. This system ensures a strong continuation of the matriarch bloodline through her grandchildren.

Interesting facts about these apes:

  • They are one of humankind’s closest living relatives with Bonobos share 98% of human DNA.
  • Of all the great apes, Bonobos are especially known for their ability to get along.
  • They are the most vocal of the great apes, using complicated patterns of communication to deliver complex messages to one another.
  • Bonobos are only found in the Democratic Republic of Congo (D.R.C).
  • They are classified as Endangered on the IUCN red list.
  • Mainly they are threatened by human pressures of hunting for their meat and encroaching on their natural environment.
  • An alarming number of Bonobos are killed by humans in order to be kept as pets.
  • Unlike chimpanzees, Bonobo males cannot tell when the females are fertile.
  • Female chimps are only sexually receptive once every few years, so males fight viciously to obtain rights to mate.
  • Female Bonobos, in contrast, are receptive in both their fertile and infertile periods, so males have no need to fight each other for mating purposes.
  • Infants are born helpless and must be carried everywhere by their mothers for the first two years.
  • These great apes are known to self-medicate by combining and ingesting certain plants to create remedies.
  • They sleep in nests they construct in trees.
  • Adult Bonobos sometimes share a nest, which is a unique behaviour among the great apes.

An altogether fascinating animal, and as researcher Furuichi said “There are mechanisms in nature that do not promote the use of violence and aggression. Bonobos are a wonderful example of that.”

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