Bonobo corpse encounter

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A short piece in Pan Africa News by Takumasa Yokoyama and Satoshi Yasumoto reports on their observations of a bonobo group after the discovery that one of their group members had died: “Behavioral responses toward a conspecific corpse of wild bonobos (Pan paniscus) at Wamba”.

Like all such observations, this one leaves us wondering what exactly the wild bonobos were thinking. Their behavior was patterned but enigmatic. The concluding paragraph is probably the only generalization that can be said.

Bonobos have been observed to return to the location of an injured group member (Tokuyama et al. 2012; Tokuyama 2019), suggesting that they may care for other injured members. In the current case also, bonobos returned repeatedly to the same location where the group member was dead, even after the corpse was buried, suggesting they care considerably for their dead and disappeared group members.