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The consequence of deforestation at Gombe is that the population of the park, estimated for many years to be about one hundred fifty but probably substantially less these days, is utterly deprived of new blood. When a female chimpanzee reaches puberty, she begins to venture out of the community in which she was raised and visit neighboring communities. This is a behavior tactic that reÂ�flects a deeper, evolved strategy—avoid mating with your close kin. A female visits adjacent communities, where she is welcomed with open arms.

Indonesia and Malaysia produce most of the world’s palm oil, and the consumer market for the stuff has exploded by nearly fifty percent in the past twenty years. If you’ve eaten a Twinkie or a packaged cupcake lately, you’ve tapped into the palm oil mother lode. Palm oil plantations need a lot of land, and in Indonesia that land was€quite recently rain forests that held many wild orangutans. Ironically, the percentage of wild orangutans living on protected land in Indonesia (about twenty-Â�five percent) is still higher than the percentage of gorillas, chimpanzees, and bono48 HOMELESS bos living on protected land in Africa.

At one point they shift gracefully from a sitting to a prone position, one female lying on the other, still pushing her genitals back and forth, back and forth, against the other’s. It would be hard for anyone not to feel a slight discomfort on first exposure to this, as human as it seems. Indeed the animals, bonobos, are the only mammals other than humans who routinely engage in sex for reasons that have nothing to do with reproduction. We still know far less about bonobos than we do about chimpanzees.

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