Chimpanzee

Appearance

Not all chimanzees are the same. Their faces can range from pink to black, while their bodies are wrapped with long black hair. Chimps do not have a tail and they are quadrupedal, meaning they walk using four limb. They can also walk upright for short stretches. Chimps are the closest of living creatures that resemble human beings as they share over 98 per cent of the human genetic blueprint. They are also the cleverest of the primates.

Social Attributes

Chimpanzees live in a group community. A group community usually comprises of small family groups (up to 3-6 individuals) which added together make up to almost fifty animals. Hierarchies are created by the adult males of each community. Adolescent females have the liberty to move without restraint between communities to create new breeding or family groups. However chimpanzee territory is keenly patrolled and disagreements often arise between neighbouring groups. The birth rate amongst chimps in the wild is not especially high with many mothers giving birth to just one offspring every five years on average. Young chimpanzees stay in the care of their mothers until they reach the ten-year age mark.

Location

These smart primates reside in a variety of habitats in central and western Africa. They are spread out far and wide across Africa. In fact they can be found in twenty two different nations: Angola, Burundi, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Mali, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Rwanda, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Uganda, and Tanzania. These regions span a total area of an incredible 2.5 million km². However around 77 per cent of the total chimpanzee population can be located in just two countries - the Congo and Gabon. They can also be found in large numbers in the Gombe National Park in Tanzania. This is the first place in Africa specifically set up for the conservation and protection of chimpanzees. Though the numbers are not clear-cut, rough estimates of chimpanzee numbers lie between 100,000 and 200,000.

Diet

Standing at a height of about one metre, males usually weigh around 40-54 kilos with the females, weighing in around 27-49 kilos. Chimps seldom live past the 50-year age limit in the wild but they gain an extra decade on average if under the care of humans. Chimps are omnivorous and they eat plants, fruits, and meat. They have an incredibly varied diet, and make forays in the forests during daytime, eating fruits, seeds, plant bulbs, tree bark, flowers, and young plant shoots. Additionally, they also consume insects, meat, and eggs.

Habitat

Due to their extensive distribution, chimpanzees reside in a wide range of environment types such as dry grasslands or savannahs, dense tropical rain forests, woodlands, secondary-growth forests, swamp forests, bamboo forests, and also in montane forests. To be able to reside across such varied habitat types, chimps have become incredibly adaptable.

Threats

Habitat ruin is the major menace facing the chimpanzee. The wild regions necessary for their continued existence are becoming increasingly rare as more forests are being cleared for human activities. Additionally, the chimp is prone to many of the human spread diseases, and their capture for medical research has brought down their numbers, particularly in West Africa. Additionally, recent outbreaks of the fatal disease Ebola, are posing a serious danger of annihilating the main chimpanzee populations in Gabon and Republic of Congo. Large population shrinkage is also caused by hunting for bushmeat and commercial exploitation where chimps are sold to private collectors or zoos. Also warfare in the DRC has had an impact not only on the chimps but their cousins the mountain gorillas too.

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