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Bonobo (Pan paniscus) Fact Sheet: Distribution & Habitat

Bonobo (Pan paniscus)


  • Found only in the central portion of Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo Basin), south of the Congo river. The common chimpanzee has much larger range.
  • Small populations within the Congo Basin are separated by rivers.
  • Potential range is estimated at approximately 500,000 km sq. (193,051 mi sq)
  • Range is discontinuous. Species absent or rare in many areas. Southern part of Congo Basin not well surveyed.
  • Few field studies prior to 1970s. Studies in 1980s confirmed populations near towns of Befale, Djolu, Bokungu and Ikela and a 3,000 sq. km. area between the Yekokora and Lomako Rivers.
  • Based on evidence of nest building individuals, population densities of around 0.4/sq km (0.15/ sq mi) are estimated for Salonga National Park which may be similar to overall densities for all their range; some study area have higher estimates.
  • As late as 17th century this species may have ranged into northwestern Angola and as far south as the Quanza River.


  • Found in lowland rain forest - both primary and secondary "regrowth" forests, but also in mosaic forest with savannas where they may even feed on grasses; recent studies show them entering swamp forests where they wade in waist-deep streams.
  • Share many ecological traits with common chimpanzees. Both are terrestrial and arboreal. Can utilize many plant resources.

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