We are excited to report that a new bonobo group was recently identified in the Yetee forest of the Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve! Members of the group were actually first observed in 2016, but trackers initially thought that the bonobos were members of the Bekako group. When research camp manager Anaïs van Cauwenberghe began tracking and naming the Bekako group, she quickly realized that the individuals in question belonged to a different group altogether. They were jokingly referred to as “fake Bekako” which then was shortened to “Fékako.”
Researchers are still determining the exact composition of the group. Right now, they have positively identified ten individuals: Seine (adult female), Amazonia (adult female) and her female infant Amur, Mississippi (adult female) and her female infant Mia, Maas (young female), and four males named Murray, Oural, Ganges, and Nile. We’ll keep you posted as we learn more about these bonobos--who, like their Bekako counterparts, are being named after rivers-- and their relationships and personalities!
Since last summer, this new group has been observed interacting with the three other bonobo groups in the Yetee forest: Ekalakala, Nkokoalongo, and Bekako. Three group interactions have been thought to be quite rare, so a four group interaction is particularly exciting. These meetings are interesting in and of themselves from a scientific perspective. They also have conservation implications, as they reinforce the importance of connected habitat corridors so that bonobos can range freely and interact. Not only that, they open up another window into the cooperative, collaborative social world of the bonobos. We can’t wait to learn more!
As always, we are so grateful to Dr. Martin Surbeck and his research team from the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology and for the local trackers from Vie Sauvage who trek into the forest daily to gather data and participate in research. We are also grateful to you for making our work possible!
Thank you for standing with us…and please help BCI and our partners by spreading the word about our work!
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