The Bonobo and the Mongoose Wall Print

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Description / The Bonobo and the Mongoose Wall Print

The Bonobo and the Mongoose © Christian Ziegler 2022. Wildlife Photographer of the Year is owned by the Natural History Museum, London.

Behaviour: Mammals, Highly Commended

This unusual sight of a young male bonobo gently holding a mongoose pup was taken in the rainforest of Salonga National Park, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Christian was tracking a group of these endangered great apes that are being studied by Barbara Fruth of the Max-Planck Society. ‘We would set out before light, wade chest‑deep through flooded forest and frequently walk 20 kilometres a day,’ he recalls. ‘The bonobo held and stroked the little mongoose for more than an hour,’ says Christian, ‘carrying it carefully, as he climbed a tree to eat fruit.’

But the situation probably had a darker beginning. Bonobos are mainly peaceful herbivores (more than half their diet is fruits and seeds) but occasionally they hunt. The pup – eventually released unharmed – may have been taken when its mother was killed. Similar behaviour has been observed at this site before, when a female colobus monkey was killed and a bonobo kept her infant for several days.

About the photographer (2022)

Christian is a photojournalist and filmmaker specialising in natural history and science-related topics. He works for the Max Planck Institute for Animal Behaviour as an Outreach Photographer and is a regular contributor to National Geographic Magazine. He has also been widely published in other magazines, such as GEO, and is a Canon Ambassador and a Founding Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers.