Bushmeat and pet trade in the Congo basin has been known as a problem – now a horrific bonobo trade is coming to light

The bushmeat trade is not a nice industry. As a means of feeding your family in the past it worked – there were far fewer people and therefore the pressure on the wild ecosystem was small.

Wild Bonobo

It is not the case anymore.

Nowadays there are significant bushmeat trading gangs.  These gangs are very bad news for any area – as with other gangs they operate as happily in extortion, human kidnap, prostitution and other unpleasant behaviours.

In the case of bonobos, they are thought cute and therefore highly prized as pets in Asian countries (most head to the Middle East or China). Being less aggressive than chimpanzees, bonobos can generally be kept far easier in captivity from a behaviour point of view.

However bonobos are highly social family animals, and for every baby bonobo taken into captivity at least two and often 5 or 6 adults will have died fighting to protect it. Bonobos are phenomenally similar to human and as such they are prone to all the illnesses we have. This means that not only is the life of a captive bonobo as a pet usually far shorter than it would be in the wild, that many do not survive to reach their final destination.

Bonobos are highly intelligent, generally believed to be able to out think common chimpanzees. Unlike chimpanzees they maintain social bonds through sexual behaviour rather than with violence.

We know relatively little about wild bonobos in comparison to their chimp cousins, and the population is becoming dangerously low, currently thought to only number between 10,000 and 20,000 individuals.

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