Chimpanzees

Chimpanzees are our closest evolutionary relatives—taxonomically, we’re both members of the Hominini tribe, and we share more than 95 percent of our DNA. In the wild, chimpanzees demonstrate the widest variety of tool use and development of all the great apes. They have a varied diet that includes fruit, vegetation, seeds, nuts and insects. Some chimpanzees even eat meat, sometimes hunting the red colobus monkey.

Chimpanzee. Photo by Riccardo Cuppini.

Chimpanzee. Photo by Riccardo Cuppini.

Chimpanzees spend time both on the ground and in trees, where they sleep in nests at night. They organize themselves into social groups that are male dominated. Females usually give birth to one infant every five to six years. Offspring are dependent on their mothers until they are seven or eight years old. Daughters form strong bonds with their mother and often maintain a relationship with them throughout their lives. As with the gorillas, habitat destruction poses the biggest threat to their survival in the wild. The bushmeat trade is also a critical problem, as well as the spread of infectious diseases in some populations.

There are four subspecies of chimpanzee:

  • Western chimpanzee
  • Nigerian chimpanzee
  • Eastern chimpanzee
  • Central chimpanzee

Chimpanzees are found in countries across a central band of Africa:

Benin, Togo, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Mali, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Cameroon, Angola, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Congo, Gabon, Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and Democratic Republic of Congo

Population
Chimpanzee: 203,000 (est.)
Eastern chimpanzee: 76,400-119,600 (est.)
Western chimpanzee: 21,300-55,600 (est.)
Central chimpanzee: 70,000-116,500 (est.)
Nigeria chimpanzee: 5,000-8,000 (est.)

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