Congo Moves to Protect Endangered Bonobos


Endangered bonobos have experienced a dramatic population decline over the last few decades, but the species now has new hope in the form of an 11,800 square mile reserve being established to protect them in the Democratic Republic of Congo. By setting aside the new Sankuru Nature Reserve -- an area larger than the state of Massachusetts -- the DRC hopes to create a haven for biodiversity and economic opportunities for the war-torn nation.

Much of those opportunities will come from foreign funding to help keep this preserve operating. Meanwhile, conservation groups are educating local villages to gain their help in protecting the reserve and the species it contains.

One of the biggest threats to bonobo preservation is the bushmeat trade, which the Congolese Institute for Conservation of Nature calls an "ecocide."

Bonobos are humanity's closest relatives in the primate world, sharing an amazing 98.4% of our DNA. They are only found in the DRC, and are the only primate species to live in a peaceful, matriarchal society. They also have a highly sexual society -- not that seems to have helped keep their population from declining amidst treats from hunting and war.

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