Chimpanzees are species of great apes that are native to the rain forest and savannah tropical forest and are said to have 98% DNA of the human genus. They are closely related to the Bonobo which are sometimes are called the ‘pygmy chimpanzees’ classified in the same genus pan. These great apes are categories into different primates’ genus such as chimpanzees, gorillas, bonobos, gibbons, and others. Chimpanzees are knowns as endangered species which measures between 170,000 and 300,000 individuals estimated across its range in Africa and their population is decreasing rapidly. It has been recorded recently during the census in the Ivory coast which revealed that the chimpanzee population there had decreased by 90% in just the past twenty years. The threats that are leading to the decrease of these chimpanzees are hunting destructions, diseases and the increasing human population that is encroaching ever deeper into the protected areas of the chimpanzees’ habitats.
Chimpanzees are comprised of four subspecies that have been recognized and these include:
- Eastern chimpanzees which are found in Uganda, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia.
- Western chimpanzee, found in mali, Guinea, Liberia, Ghana, Ivory coast, Senegal, Sierra Leone.
- Central chimpanzee found in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
- Nigeria and Cameroon chimpanzee.
- South-eastern chimpanzees are found in Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi.
What do chimpanzees eat?
Chimpanzees are omnivores which survive on whatever kind of type of vegetation food such as fruits, leaves, nuts, flowers, plants, mushroom, insect, meat, tortoise. These apes spend their part of the day looking for food.
They rely heavily on a wide variety of fruits such as bananas, mangoes, watermelons, and apples. Since they live in tropical rain forests and some in the dry savannah, swamp forest fruits can be short in supply, so these endangered chimpanzees will have to eat various types of leaves, tree bark, flowers, seeds, and more so they prefer fruits to leaves. Chimpanzees also survive on insects such as ants and termites which are estimated to be 4% of a wild chimpanzee’s diet. Chimpanzees like honey and have developed enough experience of accessing it, through using sticks to open the nest or beehive.
Common chimpanzees are herbivorous and they feed on eggs, insects, birds, small medium-sized mammals and other small primates like a red tailed monkey, yellow baboons, bush babies, blue duikers, bushbucks.
Besides being nutritious and delicious, fig-trees also account a lot to chimpanzee’s diet, providing them with a source of energy in their bodies.
These primates also feed on oil palm nut which are also known as kola and panda nuts and it is easy to identify if a chimpanzee is eating kola or panda nuts. Though it’s shell is tough and the simple way to crack them is to thrash the nuts with a hard stone.
Orphanage infant chimps fed on formulated milk until they are ready to eat solid food. Infant chimpanzees are nursed for at least five years and stay with their mothers even longer because of enough care given to them.
Tools used by chimps.
Fortunately, all chimpanzee species have been recorded using tools and such tools include modified sticks, grass, rocks and leaves. They use them when foraging for honey, termites, ants, nuts, and water. Chimps easily use their hands to extract termites, they also use modified short sticks to scoop the honey out of the hive when the bees are stingless. West African chimps break hard nuts with stones or branches. Chimps also use leaves as spoons to drink water. Eastern chimpanzees commonly use a modified branch as a tool to catch nuts and seeds.
The physical strength of a chimpanzee is around 1.5 times greater than human due to the higher content of fast to spasm muscle fibers.
An Adult male chimpanzee weighs between 40 to 60 kilograms and females weigh between 27 to 50 kilograms.
Their skin may range from pale to dark and females start developing swelling pink skin when in the oestrus.
Chimpanzees live in a group that raises to a size of15 to 150 members.
The gestation period of chimpanzees is eight-month making a difference of one month to humans.
Chimpanzees make sounds to communicate with each other by the use of facial expressions and postures. They may also express themselves with the pout which is made in distress or fear.
Chimpanzees are recorded to be ranging between 172,700 and 299,700 individuals that are still living in the wild, both in the zoo and outside in the national parks. To note, Uganda has a population of close 5000 chimpanzees.
Chimpanzees in Uganda.
In Uganda, chimpanzees can be best viewed in the tropical rain forest of Budogo Forest-Murchison falls national park in the northwestern region, Kyambura Gorge – Queen Elizabeth national park in the western part and Kibale National park which is a home of about 1500 individuals located in the western region of Uganda.
Rwanda chimpanzee trekking is at USD 90 per day per person.