Great apes in the Lake Tumba landscape, Democratic Republic of Congo: newly described populations

Bila-Isia Inogwabini p1 c1, Bewa Matungilaa1, Longwango Mbendea1, Mbenzo Abokomea1 and Tshimanga wa Tshimangaa1

a1 WWF-DRC Program, 15.872 Kin 1, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.


Over 8 months we surveyed the Lake Tumba landscape, Democratic Republic of Congo, walking 86 km of transects and 324 km of reconnaissance, to document the distribution and estimate the abundance of great apes. Five separate groups of bonobo Pan paniscus were located in the areas of Bolombo-Losombo, Mbala-Donkese, Ngombe-Botuali, Botuali-Ilombe, and Mompulenge–Mbanzi-Malebo–Nguomi, and one population of chimpanzees Pan troglodytes in the Bosobele-Lubengo area. Mean bonobo densities ranged from 0.27 individuals km-2 in the vicinity of Lake Tumba to 2.2 individuals km-2 in the Malebo-Nguomi area. In the latter they appear to be living at a higher density than reported for any other site. This may be due to the area's forest-savannah mosaic habitat, which may provide year-round fruit sources, with bonobos falling back on savannah fruits when forest resources are scarce. The bonobos of the Bolombo-Losombo area and the Bosobele-Lubengo chimpanzees have low relative abundances and live in marginal habitats of islands of terra firma within inundated forests.

(Received February 17 2006)

(Reviewed August 02 2006)

(Accepted January 14 2007)