Chimpanzees are one of the most interesting primate species you are likely to encounter during African safaris. There are so many interesting things you are probably not aware about these wonderful creatures and these include;
Chimpanzees are one of the four distinctive species of Apes and interestingly share at least 98.7% of their DNA with humans. They are scientifically known as Pan troglodytes but are sometimes confused for the Bonobos (their close relative that are scientifically referred as Pan Paniscus. Chimpanzees and humans have the same blood types of A, B, AB and O.
Chimpanzees are generally found across 20 different African countries inhabiting the dense Tropical rainforests. Nonetheless, they also occupy the bamboo forests, swamps, smaller forests, open savannas and woodlands among others.
Their lifespan is 40-50 years in the wild while they can live from 50-60 years in captivity. These primates are primarily omnivorous (consume both plants and flesh) with their diet mainly comprising of insects, young monkeys, seeds, nuts, flesh, fruits and tender shoots among others.
Due to the fact that Chimpanzees are closely related to humans, they are susceptible to human diseases such as Measles, Influenza and Hepatitis B. However, they usually consume plants and some of them are medicinal in nature.
These primates have longer arms than legs but shorter bodies whereas their young ones have tails that are white with tuft which eventually disappear as they become adults. Chimpanzees express feelings and emotions similar to humans such as anger, depression, sorrow, boredom, joy, and can encourage or comfort one another.
Chimpanzees are known to be social mammals and active during day. They stay in small but steady family units referred as “communities” comprising of 40 to 60 members but also from time to form smaller sub-groups of 6-7 individuals. There is always an alpha male in every community with several females and infants.
Chimpanzees display sexual dimorphism with the males weighing 35 to 70 kilograms (90 to 115 pounds) and have an average shoulder height of 3 to 4 feet tall while the females weigh 26 to 50 kilograms (57 to 110 pounds) and have shoulder height of 2 to 3.5 feet tall.
Chimpanzees are characterized by their longer arms than legs as well as shorter bodies while the young ones have tails that are usually white with tuft but eventually disappear as they reach adulthood.
Chimpanzees reach sexual maturity at 12 to 13 years and their gestation period is about 8.5 to 9 months after which a single baby is born much as there are also cases of twin births. They also breastfeed their babies the same way humans do and live with them for 7-10 years. After weaning, the babies start constructing their own sleeping nests thus no need to share with their mothers.
Did you know that chimpanzees are 6-7 times stronger than humans? Yes, that’s right and can easily learn human languages when in captivity (Sanctuaries and Zoos). They have different ways of communication that include body postures, vocalizations, facial expression, gestures thus can communicate with one another even at long distances. However, it is said that they can’t speak as portrayed in movies like “Planet of Apes”.
In conclusion, Chimpanzees are one of the most interesting primates you will encounter during Uganda safaris and are found within Kibale Forest, Semliki Forest, Kyambura gorge of Queen Elizabeth National Park and Budongo Forest within the Murchison Falls National Park.