Chimpanzee Facts

Everyone knows that the chimpanzees are the closest animals to being human. This is backed by the 98.8% DNA match between humans and chimpanzees – which is the closest known match.

Fortunately, that is not all there is to chimpanzees. A lot of research and monitoring over the past several decades has revealed that chimps are much [much] more than DNA cousins. The work of researchers such as Jane Goodall has revealed that chimpanzees are so much more.

It is on that background that sustainable tourism activities related to chimpanzees have sprung up and become very popular with all sorts of travellers. Currently, Chimpanzee tracking (seeing chimpanzees in their natural habitat) is among the top things to do for anyone doing an African Safari in Uganda.

Let us now look at those interesting facts that will intrigue you about chimpanzees. read on!

1. CLASSIFICATION

Chimpanzees are categorized under the four great apes. These include the Gorillas, Bonobo (dwarf or pygmy chimpanzee), Orangutans (translation – man of the forest) and Chimpanzees. These great apes are closely related to humans and it is scientifically said that humans and the four great apes descended from a single species, and evolved to meet their survival needs.

The scientific name of Chimpanzee is ‘Pan troglodytes’ classified under the Hominidae family. This is due to the lack of tails and shorter spine – that is built for standing and sitting in upright positions much like us humans do.

2. PHYSICAL

Chimpanzees stand about 1 to 1.7 meters (5 feet 7 inches) tall.

Their arms are longer than the legs which come in handy for swinging from one tree branch to another. They walk on the soles of their feet and knuckles of their long hands; however, they can manage to walk standing upright on their legs for the briefest of times.

The male chimps averagely weigh from 34 to 70 kgs while the females weigh between 26 and 50 kgs.

Chimpanzees have brown or black hair covering the entire body apart from the knuckles (a result of pressing on the ground as it walks), some chest areas, and face (mouth and ears) – thus exposing their huge ears and a small nose.

3. HABITAT.

Chimpanzees prefer to live in forests, savanna woodlands and lowland forests.

Considering their diet, this is the perfect natural habitat for shelter and food. Some chimpanzee populations have adapted to arid areas like in Senegal and Tanzania infested by savannas, swamp forests and open forests.

With growing human populations in the areas near these forests and woodlands, the habitat of chimpanzees has significantly reduced and put their lives in danger.

In Uganda, Chimpanzees have two major habitats. The national parks, and the chimpanzee sanctuary of Ngamba Island. The most popular national park for seeing chimps in Uganda is Kibale National Park. Other parks with chimpanzees are Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls.

The habitat of chimpanzees is determined by the presence of food and a friendly environment that is safe from human encroachment.

4. CHIMPANZEE DIET.

Chimpanzees are omnivores and can eat both plant and animal products. Although they are primarily vegetarian, chimps also eat insects like ants, meat and eggs. Chimpanzees mostly eat fruits, leaves, figs, blossoms, seed and berries as part of their routine vegetarian diet.

Until the late 1960s, chimpanzees were known to be entirely vegetarian. That was until one Dr. Jane Goodall in Gombe National Park observed one using a twig to fish termites out of the ground and snacking at them. It has been since established that insects make up about  4% of a chimpanzee’s diet.

Chimps are also known for hunting other animals for meat. A chimpanzee will hunt the smaller and medium-sized animals like monkeys, wild pigs and small antelopes for meat. The hunt is sometimes sharing with the other chimpanzees in the vicinity.

5. SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR.

Chimpanzees are more socially flexible compared to the other members of the ‘great apes’. They live in fission-fusion social groups where there is a larger group called communities with about 100 individuals or more and smaller subgroups (parties) that go up to 50 individuals who can leave or join with unlimited freedom. The smaller groups are more fluid and unpredictable.

The dominant male Chimp in a subgroup monopolizes mating with all females, however, if the female chimps band together they can chase him away. In most communities, the female chimps are more than the number of males.

Chimpanzees are one of the few animals that are known for using tools like sticks, stones and leaves. Chimpanzees have been observed on several occasions using stones to break hard nuts for eating and sticks to trap insects like ants.

The brain of a chimp is more advanced than most of the other wild animals. They have exhibited intelligence following training from human specialists using symbols. The ability to use tools for their own advantage is one good exhibition of this intelligence.

Chimpanzees communicate verbally together to share how they feel. The ‘pant-hoot’ is normally sounded by an adult chimp to signify excitement and enjoyment, and the ‘pant-grunts’ by the males establishing dominance over the other submissive animals.

6. LIFE SPAN.

The oldest chimp in the wild was estimated to have lived up to 63 years when she died. A chimpanzee will live for up to 60 years. This is a long life span for the wild, close to the lifespan of an elephant.

This long lifespan is however affected by factors like the availability of good habitat with food and low predation. Human encroachment on land is the biggest threat to chimpanzees. The ability of chimpanzees to catch human diseases is another problem. This is because an epidemic in any nearby area could easily infect chimpanzees and spread fast – because of their social nature.

7. REPRODUCTION.

Chimpanzees engage in sexual practices not just for reproduction but also socially.  When a female chimp reaches sexual maturity and is in heat, the anogenital region swells taking up a pink colour signalling the males that she is ready to mate. She can engage with different partners or one specifically but in most cases, the father is not known.

The gestation period of a chimpanzee lasts 8 months and an offspring can be born at any time of the year. The mother takes care of the offspring even carrying it at its back when walking. Chimpanzees often give birth to a single offspring.

Both males and females reach sexual maturity by the age of 10 to 12 years, however; they become independent by the age of 4 years.

8. CONSERVATION STATUS.

Chimpanzees are listed as an endangered species. While the actual number of chimpanzees left in the world is unknown, the population is steadily decreasing and chimps are at the risk of extinction. This is according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Redlist data, which keeps watching the status of all species.

In Uganda, Chimpanzee populations have been increasing for years and are regarded as one of the best places to see chimpanzees in their wild natural habitat.

Chimps are commonly found in Africa specifically the Southern Senegal, North of the Congo River, Western Uganda and Western Tanzania. Gombe National Park is the first park ever created specifically for Chimpanzees.  The biggest predators for chimpanzees are humans (for land) and leopards (for food).

CONCLUSION.

Chimpanzees are clearly more than wild animals, they are our close relatives. The fact that their existence isn’t assured is very sad.

While Chimpanzees can be found in several zoos around the world, animals in captivity do not represent how a certain animal is supposed to naturally live its life. This is why it is more important to save their natural habitat and protect them from life-threatening factors.

One way of doing that is through sustainable tourism. When funds from chimpanzee tracking are used to drive conservation and protection programs for the gifts of nature.

This means that if you undertake a Ugandan safari with chimpanzee tracking, your money goes to something more important for future generations. You can reach out to us about any ideas for you to see chimpanzees in Uganda.

Since the programs are very customizable, we can tailor them to your needs.

Finally, to end this off, there is a favour we would like to ask. Since you have read up to this point, we trust you found some of the information interesting. We would absolutely love it if you shared this article on your social media. This helps more people to easily find – and hopefully benefit from it.

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