Bonobo Tracking and Watching in DR Congo
Bonobos are primates prominently found in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the area around the Congo River, the Lomami River, the Kasai/Sankuru Rivers and Lake Tumba/Lac Ndombe region. These can stay in harmony with the humans without any inconveniences as long as everything remains peaceful.
A research camp called Wamba was founded in 1974 by a Japanese primatologist called Takayoshi in order study the bonobo, pan paniscus a species of simian. These are different from all the other primates like the chimpanzee for these prefer making peace/ living peacefully unlike the roughness of its relative the chimpanzee. These are more relaxed, easy and sexually persistent practicing cordial bonding.
The Bonobos are situated in the thick forest and are tracked just like the other primates i.e the chimpanzee, Gorillas etc. You will wake up early in the morning, take breakfast then transfer through the forest depending on where they had nested the previous day and when you get there, you will be amazed at how they make their chorus. If they nested about 4 kms away, you will be required to wake up earlier at 3:30 am to get to spot them at 5:00 am and if they nested just a km away, tracking them through the forest can be delayed by 1 hour.
After tracking and watching these, you will transfer back to your campsite at 8:00 am or 9:00 am to have breakfast then relax till 3:00 pm/ 4:00 pm where you will transfer with an experienced guide/ ranger who will go with you through the forest to spot where the bonobos will be nesting and interact with them until they go to sleep then after on, you will return back to your camp for dinner and overnight.
According to how many people are going to track, you will be divided into two or three candid groups so as to reduce interruption to the bonobos. Carry a mobile camp to make it easy for you to rest.
- They are close cousins to humans i.e 98.4% of the genetic makeup
- They have black faces, red lips, two or three webbed toes, a tail clump and parted long hair
- They whine when they fail just like humans
- They move quadrupedally in a special position called knuckle-walking
- They tend to suspend themselves from their arms to move around easier. And on the ground, the bonobo can walk bipedally as well, making it the most human-like of all apes
- They live in a fission-fusion society i.e dividing and getting together again daily
- They stay in groups of 50-100 although, during the day they break up forming candid hunting groups. At night, these unite making sub groups hence building sleeping nests from branches to leaves
- They control their emotions during times of happiness, sorrow, excitement and anger just like the humans.
- They also do human like gestures when communicating non verbally e.g they beg by stretching out an open hand and sob when they fail accomplishing something
- They love to feast on fruit however; they also feed on leaves, flowers, seeds, bark, invertebrates, candid vertebrates and more than 113 types of plants.
- These are a globally threatened species for many are illegally hunted for bush meat to sell on the black market.
- Habitat destruction where there forest areas are usually encroached on by humans for settlement as well as agriculture which has led to massive relocation of the bonobos.