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Home » National Parks in Congo » Salonga National Park Congo » Tourist Attractions in Salonga National Park » Fauna/Wildlife in Salonga National Park

Fauna/Wildlife in Salonga National Park

Fauna/Wildlife in Salonga national park; In regard to fauna, Salonga national park is class apart from other African national parks. The park is endowed with unique wildlife species some of which are endangered species. The most important of these include;

Bonobo or pygmy chimpanzee Pan Paniscus -The Salonga represents the largest expanse of legally protected bonobo habitat in DRC. The park protects approximately 15,000 individuals, or possibly 40% of the world’s bonobo population. It is the only protected area in DRC where bonobos and elephants still occur together in substantial numbers and where elephants still play a major role in forest regeneration and growth.

Brief description of Bonobo or Pygme chimpanzee in Salonga National park

The equatorial forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) house a truly special kind of ape and one of man’s closest relatives: the bonobo.

Bonobos almost share 98.5% of the same DNA with humans and hence they possess very human-like qualities. They embody a profound intelligence and a deep emotional capacity. In fact, in captivity, bonobos have picked up on many facets of human culture, sometimes simply through observation of the researchers around them. They have learned how to communicate in human languages, use tools, play music, and in one case, a bonobo actually tried her hand at driving a golf cart (only to crash into a tree shortly after).

Physically, they resemble chimpanzees, a close relative. In fact, bonobos are sometimes referred to as pygmy chimps because scientists first believed bonobos were a subspecies of chimpanzees. Further inspection revealed differences, and scientists later categorized them as their own unique species. With a more upright skeleton, long legs, and narrow shoulders, bonobos have the ability to walk bipedally, or on two legs, more easily and for longer amounts of time than chimpanzees. Their skeletal anatomy is actually very similar to Australopithecus, an early ancestor of humans. Their faces are flatter with a higher forehead than those of chimps, and their long black hair parts in the middle.

Bonobos differ from chimpanzees behaviorally as well. While chimpanzee society is competitive and male-dominated, bonobos live harmoniously in matriarchal groups of up to 100 members. Females hold the highest rank in a group, and the sons of ranking females become leaders among the males. Although males are physically larger and stronger, females gain power through strong bonds and alliances, thereby forming a stable “sisterhood.”

When a female reaches sexual maturity, she will join another group. This limits inbreeding and increases genetic diversity among populations. When approaching a new group, the young female will seek out older, high-ranking females and attempt to form a bond through grooming and sexual behavior. Sexual behavior is predominant in bonobo life. They engage in sexual behavior for a variety of reasons: to form bonds, to neutralize tense situations, to express excitement, to greet one another, to encourage sharing and compassion, and of course, to produce young.

They reproduce at the same rate as chimpanzees, giving birth every 5-6 years. A female will bear young for the first time around 13-14 years old. She will nurse and carry her offspring for up to 5 years. Males do not take part in the rearing process.

The bonobo species in Salonga national park diet is largely vegetarian. Foraging in small groups, bonobos primarily feed on fruit, but they also eat leaves, flowers, bark, stems, roots, insect larvae, worms, crustaceans, honey, eggs, and soil. Occasionally they hunt small mammals like flying squirrels or duikers (small antelopes). At night, bonobos gather with their groups to nest, communicating with each other with high-pitched barking sounds. The species is omnivorous and inhabits primary and secondary forests, including seasonally inundated swamp forests. These species are commonly seen in the northwest, northeast and southeast margins of the Salonga national Park.

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