The Bonobo Pan paniscus (Mammalia: Primates: Hominidae) nesting patterns and forest canopy layers in the Lake Tumba forests and Salonga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo

Main Article Content

Bila-Isia Inogwabini


The description and differentiation of habitat types is a major concern in ecology.  This study examined relationships between Bonobo Pan paniscus nesting patterns and forest structure in the Lake Tumba Swampy Forests. Data on presence of fresh Bonobo nests, canopy cover, canopy structure, tree densities and tree basal areas were collected systematically along 134 transects at 400m and 800m intervals, and the leaf-covered area (LCA) was calculated for each of seven forest types. I observed a significant correlation between bonobo nests and mixed mature forest/closed understory forest type (r=-0.730, df = 21, p <0.05), but not mixed mature forest/open understory, old secondary forest and young secondary forest.  Basal areas of non-nesting trees along transects did not differ significantly from those in sites where bonobos nested.  Higher LCA (55% and 55%) occurred in nesting sites when compared with non-nesting sites (39% and 42%) at elevations 4–8 m and 8–16 m above the soil.  There was greater leaf cover in the understorey at sites where bonobos did not nest, while there was greater leaf cover in the mid-storey at sites where bonobos did nest. 


Article Details

Author Biography

Bila-Isia Inogwabini, Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, University of Kent at Canterbury, United Kingdom Currently: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden

Bila-Isia Inogwabini has a PhD in Wildlife Management from the University of Kent at Canterbury, UK. He has been working on applied conservation research for 20 years across central Africa. His current diversified scientific interests include applied primate conservation research.



Anderson, B.W. & R.D. Ohmart (1986). Vegetation, pp. 639–660. In: Copperider, A.Y., R.J. Boyd & H.R. Stuart (eds.). Inventory and Monitoring of the Wildlife Habitat. US Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Washington DC.

Badrian, N.L. & Malenky (1984). Feeding Ecology of Pan paniscus in the Lomako forest, Zaire, pp. 325–346. In: Susman, R.L. (ed.). The Pygmy Chimpanzee: Evolutionary Biology and Behavior. Plenum Press, New York.

Badrian, N.L., A.J. Badrian & L.R. Susman (1982). Preliminary observations on feeding behaviour of Pan paniscus in the Lomako Forest of Central Zaire. Primates 22: 173–181.

Boubli, J.P., J. Eriksson, S. Wich, G. Hohmann & B. Fruth (2004). Mesoscale transect sampling of trees in the Lomako - Yekokora interfluvium, Democratic Republic of Congo. Biodiversity Conservation 13: 2399–2417;

Conklin-Britain, N.L., C.D. Knott & R.W. Wranham (2001). Feeding ecology of great apes, pp. 167–174. In: The Great Apes: Challenges for the 21st Century. Conference proceedings, Brookfield Zoo.

Cottam, G., J.T. Curits & B.W. Hale (1953). Some sampling characteristics of a population of randomly disperse individuals. Ecology 34: 741–757.

D’Amour D.E., G. Hohmann & B. Fruth (2006). Evidence of leopard predation on Bonobos (Pan paniscus). Folia Primatologica 77: 212–217;

Dowsett-Lemaire, F. (1995). Contribution à l’étude de la végétation forestière du Parc National d’Odzala (Congo). Groupement AGRECO-CTFT. Unpublished Report submitted to the Regional Office of the Ecosystèmes Forestiers d’Afrique Centrale. Libreville, Gabon.

Dubayah, R.O. & J.B. Drake (2000). Lidar remote sensing for forestry. Journal of Forestry 98: 44–46.

Ennos, R. (2000). Statistical and Data Handling Skills in Biology. Pearson & Prentice Hall.

Evrard, C. (1958). Recherches écologiques sur le peuplement forestier de sol hydromorphe de la cuvette centrale congolaise. Office National de la Recherche pour le Développement (ONRD)/L’Institut National pour l’étude Agronomique du Congo (INEAC) – Ministère Belge de l’éducation et de la culture. Bruxelles, Belgique.

Fruth, B. & G. Hohmann (1993). Ecological and behavioral aspects of nest building in wild Bonobos (Pan paniscus). Ethology 94: 113–126;

Furuichi, T., C. Hashimoto & Y. Tashiro (2001). Fruit availability and habitat use by chimpanzees in the Kalinzu forest, Uganda: examination of fallback food. International Journal of Primatology 22: 929–945.

Gautier-Hion, A., M. Colyn & J.P. Gautier (1999). Histoire naturelle des primates d’Afrique Centrale. Ecosystèmes Forestiers d’Afrique Centrale (ECOFAC), Union Douanière d’Etats d’Afrique Centrale (UDEAC). Edition Multipress.

Greig-Smith, P. (1964). Quantitative Plant Ecology. 2nd Edition. Butterworths.

Hawkins, D. (2005). Biomeasurement: Understanding, Analyzing and Communicating Data in the Biosciences. Oxford University Press.

Horn, A.D. (1980). Some observations on the ecology of the Bonobo Chimpanzee (Pan paniscus Schwarz, 1929) near Lake Tumba, Zaire. Folia Primatologica 34: 145–169.

Idani, G., S. Kuroda, T. Kano & R. Asato (1994). Flora and vegetation of Wamba forest, central Zaire with reference to Bonobo (Pan paniscus) food. Tropics 3: 309–332.

Inogwabini, B.I. (2005). Fish of the Salonga Na­tional Park, democratic Republic of Congo: survey and conservation issues. Oryx 39: 78–81;

Inogwabini, B.I. (2006). A preliminary checklist of mammals and plants: conservation status of some species in the Salonga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo. Endangered Species Updates 23: 104–117.

Inogwabini, B.I. (2010). Conserving great apes living outside protected areas: the distribution of bonobos in the Lake Tumba landscape, Democratic Republic of Congo. Thesis submitted for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Biodiversity Management. Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, University of Kent at Canterbury, United Kingdom.

Inogwabini, B.I. (2013a). The Lake Télé - Lake Tumba Landscape, pp. 749–751. In: Howarth (ed.). Biomes and Ecosystems: An Encyclopaedia. Salem Press & Golson Media.

Inogwabini, B.I. (2013b). Bushmeat, over-fishing and covariates explaining fish abundance declines in the Central Congo Basin. Environmental Biology of Fishes 97(7): 787–796;

Inogwabini, B.I., B. Matungila, L. Mbende, M. Abokome & W.T Tshimanga (2007). The great apes in the Lac Tumba landscape, Democratic Republic of Congo: newly described populations. Oryx 41: 532-538.

Inogwabini, B.I. & N. Leader-Williams (2012a). Effects of epidemic diseases on the distribution of bonobos. PLoS ONE 7: e51112: 1–8;

Inogwabini, B.I. & N. Leader-Williams (2012b). Using the keywords to explain the bonobo distribution as an effect of human perception of the species. American Journal of Human Ecology 1: 102–110;

Inogwabini, B.I., M. Abokome, T. Kamenge, L. Mbende & L. Mboka (2012). Preliminary bonobo and chimpanzee nesting by habitat type in the northern Lac Tumba Landscape, Democratic Republic of Congo. African Journal of Ecology 50(3): 285–298;

Inogwabini, B.I., M. Ngama-Nkosi, L. Wema-Wema & M. Longwango (2013). Elephants affect forest physical structure and plant species composition: data from Salonga and Malebo (Lac Tumba Landscape), Democratic Republic of Congo. Pachyderm 53: 28–37.

Kano, T. (1983). An ecological study of the Pygmy Chimpanzees (Pan paniscus) of Yalosidi, Republic of Zaire. International Journal of Primatology 4: 1–31.

Kano, T. & M. Mulavwa (1984). Feeding ecology of the Pygmy chimpanzees (Pan paniscus) of Wamba, pp. 233–274. In: Susman, R.L. (ed.). The Pygmy Chimpanzee: Evolutionary Biology and Behaviour. Plenum Press.

Kershaw, K.A. (1966). Quantitative and Dynamic Ecology. Edward Arnold Publishers.

Kortlandt A. (1995). A survey of the geographical range, habitat and conservation of the Pygmy Chimpanzee (Pan paniscus): an ecological per­spective. Primate Conservation 16: 21–36.

Lejoly, J. (1996). Synthèse régionale sur la biodiversité végétale des ligneux dans les 6 sites du projet ECOFAC en Afrique Centrale. Groupement AGRECO-CTFT. Unpublished Report submitted to the Regional Office of the Ecosystèmes Forestiers d’Afrique Centrale, Libreville, Gabon.

Letouzey, R. (1982). Manuel de botanique forestière - Afrique Tropicale. Tome 1. 2nd Edition. Centre Technique Forestier, Paris, France.

Marshall, A.J. & R.W. Wrangham (2007). Evolutionary consequences of fallback foods. International Journal of Primatology 28: 1219–1235.

McDiarmid, R.W. & D.E. Wilson (1996). Keys to a successful project: Associated data and planning - data standards, pp. 56–62. In: Wilson, D.E., F.R. Cole, J.D. Nichols, R. Rudran & M.S. Foster (eds.). Measuring and Monitoring Biological Diversity: Standard Methods for Mammals. Smithsonian Institution Press.

Reichard, U. (1998). Sleeping sites, sleeping places, and pre-sleep behavior of Gibbons (Hylobates lar). American Journal of Primatology 46: 35–62.

Reinartz, G., B.I. Inogwabini, N. Mafuta & W.W. Lisalama (2006). Effects of forest type and human presence on Bonobo (Pan paniscus) density in the Salonga National Park. International Journal of Primatology 27: 603–634.

Richards, P.W. (1996). The Tropical Rain Forest - 2nd Edition. Cambridge University Press.

Rogers, M.E. & E.A. Williamson (1987). Density of herbaceous plants eaten by Gorillas in Gabon, some preliminary data. Biotropica 19: 278–281.

Siegel, S. (1956). Nonparametric Statistics for The Behavioral Sciences. McGrew-Hill.

Sokal, R.R. & F.J. Rohlf (1995). Biometry. 3rd Edition. Freeman & Cie.

Susman, RL. (1979). Positional behaviour and feeding ecology of Pygmy Chimpanzee (Pan paniscus): first year result of the Lomako forest pygmy chimpanzee Project. Research Reports. National Geographic Society, 225–239pp.

Sutherland, W.J. (1996). Why Census? In: Sutherland, W.J. (Ed.). Ecological Census Techniques - A Handbook. Cambridge University Press.

Twagirashyaka, F. & B.I. Inogwabini (2009). Lake TéLé-Lake Tumba landscape, pp. 305–316. In: de Wasseige, C., D. Devers, P. de Marcken, R. Eba’a Atyi, R. Nasi & P. Mayaux (eds.). The Forests of the Congo Basin - State of the Forest 2008. Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg

Upton, G. & I. Cook (2004). Oxford Dictionary of Statistics. Oxford University Press.

van Asbroeck, P. (1997). Inventaire du Layon Ekagna-Amberre dans le Parc National d’Odzala. Groupement AGRECO-CTFT. Unpublished Report submitted to the Regional Office of the Ecosystèmes Forestiers d’Afrique Centrale. Libreville, Gabon.

van Krunkelsven E., B.I. Inogwabini & D. Draulans (2000). A survey of bonobos and other large mammals in the Salonga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo. Oryx 34: 180–187.

White, F. (1983). The Vegetation of Africa. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

White, J.F. (1992). Activity budgets, feeding behaviour, and habitat use of Pygmy Chimpanzees at Lomako, Zaire. American Journal of Primatology 26: 215–223.

White, L.J.T. & K. Abernethy (1997). A Guide to the Vegetation of the Lopé Reserve, Gabon. Multipress.

White, L.J.T. & A. Edwards (2000). Methods for assessing the status of animal populations. In: White, L.J.T. & A. Edwards (eds.). Conservation Research in the African Rain Forests: A Technical Handbook. Wildlife Conservation Society.

Williamson, E.A. (1993). Methods used in the evaluation of Lowland Gorilla habitat in the Lopé Reserve, Gabon. Tropics 2: 199–208.