Moving bonobos off the scientifically endangered list

in Behaviour
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This Special Issue of Behaviour includes twelve novel empirical papers focusing on the behaviour and cognition of both captive and wild bonobos (Pan paniscus). As our species less known closest relative, the bonobo has gone from being little studied to increasingly popular as a species of focus over the past decade. We suggest that bonobos are ready to come off the scientific endangered list as a result. This Special Issue is exhibit A in showing that a renaissance in bonobo research is well underway. In this Editorial we review a number of traits in which bonobos and chimpanzees are more similar to humans than they are each other. We show how this means that bonobos provide an extremely powerful test of ideas about human uniqueness as well as being crucial to determining the evolutionary processes by which cognitive traits evolve in apes. This introduction places the twelve empirical contributions within the Special Issue in the larger evolutionary context to which they contribute. Overall this Special Issue demonstrates how anyone interested in understanding humans or chimpanzees must also know bonobos.

Moving bonobos off the scientifically endangered list

in Behaviour

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References

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Figures

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    Bonobos are endangered and are only endemic to tropical forest South of the Congo River in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Their suspected historical range (approx. 500 000 km2) is nearly the size of France and bigger than California (see http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/full/15932/0). The map shows the Congo River and the location of the most productive research sites over the last decade for bonobo behaviour and cognition. Wamba in the Luo Reserve represents the first and oldest study of wild bonobos established in 1973 by Takayoshi Kano (Kano, 1992), Lui Katole in Salonga National Park has likely been the most productive study site on wild bonobos after over a decade of support from the Max Planck Society (Hohmann & Fruth, 2003b), and Lola ya Bonobo Sanctuary outside the capital of Kinshasa has allowed for dozens of cognitive and developmental studies focusing on the sanctuaries’ rehabilitated orphan bonobos rescued from the bushmeat trade (Wobber & Hare, 2011). Map from wikicommons: File:CongoLualaba_watershed_topo.png. This figure is published in colour in the online edition of this journal, which can be accessed via http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/journals/1568539x.

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    Bonobo (Pan paniscus). Photo taken by Shinya Yamamoto at Wamba, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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