The Bonobos of the Lake Tumba – Lake Maindombe Hinterland: Threats and Opportunities for Population Conservation

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Anecdotally the term bonobo, now the popular name of Pan paniscus, is a misuse of the village name Bolobo (Thompson 1997, de Waal and Lanting 1997). Historically, Bolobo has served as one of the Congo’s main river commercial centers, which had seen the exportation of quantities of the Congo’s minerals and other natural resources. It is not a surprise that bonobos and other species may have come through that village. Despite confirmation of their presence at the vicinity of Lake Tumba in the early 1970s and 1980s (Fenart and Deblock 1973, Horn 1980, 1976, Deblock 1973), the presence of bonobos (Fig. 13.1) was debated because the evidence provided by Horn (1976) was limited to a few signs (Thompson 1997, Thompson-Handler et al. 1995). Nevertheless, overviews of the nation-wide distribution of the species (Kortlandt 1995, Thompson-Handler et al. 1995, Kano 1984, Fenart and Deblock 1973) included some localities within the Tumba — Maindombe hinterland in the list of locations where bonobos were present, albeit most of them without precise mapped distribution. The imprecision of these data, or rather the lack of it including simple distributional maps, hampered any conservation effort for bonobos in the region for many years.