Spring 2002

Photo by France Lanting
Volume
51
Number
2
About the Cover

Franz Lanting captured a mother and baby bonobo playing what humans know as the "airplane" game, in which a parent holds the child aloft on his or her feet as though the child is soaring through the air, carefully maintaining eye contact with one another as they play. Bonobos (Pan paniscus), also referred to as Pygmy chimpanzees, are humans' closest genetic relatives. They live in a peaceful, matriarchal society but cling perilously to life in the lowland tropical forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)- land ravaged by civil war and the evisceration of the earth by multinational companies seeking profit in the DRC's natural riches. They are also at risk from the bushmeat trade, which results in the slaughter of mothers and the sale of orphaned infants into the pet trade. Concrete population figures are scant, but as few as 5,000 bonobos may exist in the wild. Immediate action is vital to preserve this species. (See story pages 10-12.)