Meet the Fekakos!

We are so excited to announce that there is a newly identified bonobo group in the Yetee forest of the Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve! Members of the group were actually first observed in 2016, but trackers initially thought that the bonobos were members of the Bekako group. When research camp manager Anaïs van Cauwenberghe began tracking and naming the Bekako group, she quickly realized that the individuals in question belonged to a different group altogether. They were jokingly referred to as “fake Bekako” which then was shortened to “Fekako.”

Murray of the Fekako group.

Researchers are still determining the exact composition of the group. Right now, they have positively identified ten individuals: Seine (adult female), Amazonia (adult female) and her female infant Amur, Mississippi (adult female) and her female infant Mia, Maas (young female), and four males named Murray, Oural, Ganges, and Nile. We’ll keep you posted as we learn more about these bonobos and their relationships and personalities!

On the most recent expedition to Kokolopori with actor and activist Ashley Judd, our team was thrilled to observe interactions between three bonobo groups: Ekalakala, Nkokoalongo, and Bekako. Three group interactions have been thought to be quite rare and have barely been described in the scientific literature. Shortly after the expedition left, something even more incredible happened—a four group interaction! Since August, researchers have observed all four groups encountering each other on multiple occasions. These meetings are interesting in and of themselves from a scientific perspective. They also have conservation implications, as they reinforce the importance of connected habitat corridors so that bonobos can range freely and interact. Not only that, they open up another window into the cooperative, collaborative social world of the bonobos. We can’t wait to learn more!

As always, we are so grateful to Dr. Martin Surbeck and his research team from the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology and for the local trackers who trek into the forest daily to gather data and participate in research. We are also grateful to you for making their work possible! If you would like to support this groundbreaking research, please donate today. Thank you!

Mississippi of the Fekako group.