Sunday, March 5, 2006; Posted: 9:46 p.m. EST (02:46 GMT)
MBIHE-MOKELE, Congo (AP) -- Scientists are struggling to save the fast-disappearing bonobo, the gentle "hippie chimp" known for resolving squabbles through sex rather than violence.
Unfortunately, bonobos are prized by Congolese for their tasty meat, and many villagers who are illegally hunting the wiry, wizen-faced apes don't realize how close their prey is to extinction.
"Bonobos are an icon for peace and love, the world's 'hippie chimps,"' said Sally Coxe of the Washington-based Bonobo Conservation Initiative. "To let them die off would be a catastrophe."
The animals are known for greeting rival groups with genital handshakes and sensual body rubs. Bonobo spats are swiftly settled -- often with a French kiss and a quick round of sex.
Despite all the sex, however, female bonobos give birth to a single infant only once every five years, making the species especially vulnerable.
As few as 5,000 may now remain in Congo, down from an estimated 100,000 in 1984, said Ino Guabini, a primatologist with the World Wildlife Fund.
Even provincial police who are supposed to protect the bonobo are mostly ignorant about dangers to its survival, and they are often sympathetic to those who eat it.
Some officers consume bonoobo meat, too, said Clerivent Kanyamba, deputy chief of the Equator province police.
"What can we do if bonobo meat is tasty?" Kanyamba said.
When will people learn that hippiedom is an evolutionary dead end. It's clear that nature (and everyone else with even a lick of sense) abhors a hippie. The only thing to do at this point is to flip these conservationialists (hippie sympathizers) the bird and go out and order yourself a hippie-chimp steak. This way when they finally do all go extinct you can tell your grandkids how you once helped to strike a blow against hippiedom and how they tasted like buttah.