Characteristics of Chimpanzees – East Africa

Chimpanzees are one of the major attractions of tourists in East and Central Africa, mostly in Uganda, Tanzania, DR Congo, and Rwanda. Most safaris in Rwanda and Uganda combine gorillas and chimpanzee tracking or habituation experience! For instance, chimps in Uganda are found in Kibale National Park, Budongo forest, Kyambura gorge, and Karinzu forest reserve. In Rwanda, we find chimpanzees in Nyungwe National Park.

Chimpanzees are referred to as human relatives due to the fact that they share almost 94 % of their DNA with a human being. The chimpanzees are Sociable, communicative, and intelligent apes. Amazing is that chimpanzees are capable of using tools like sticks, stones among others – such schools are passed from generation to generation.

Chimpanzees live in communities containing from 10 to 100 members. They hold hands, kiss, and groom each others’ offspring.

Chimpanzees are almost entirely covered in black hair, rather than fur, and may have whiskers on their chin. Like humans, chimpanzees have flat faces, forward-facing eyes, and relatively small noses. These facial features have significant implications on a chimpanzee’s senses.

Chimpanzees’ faces and ears, as well as the palms of their hands and the soles of their feet, are bare skin which can change in color between pink and black. Chimpanzees possess longer arms than legs and have both opposable thumbs and big toes. All their limbs are very flexible. These features define how a chimpanzee moves around.

Male Chimpanzees are slightly larger and heavier than female ones. East African adult males weigh between 90 and 115 pounds and measure about 4 feet high when standing upright. Female chimpanzees weigh approximately 90 to 100 pounds and stand at about 3 feet tall. At birth, chimpanzees weight an average of 2 to 4 pounds. Chimpanzees in West Africa or in captivity is maybe even larger.

Like Gorillas, chimpanzee communities are led by male chimps responsible for guarding the community against any danger- more so, male chimpanzees make decisions in the communities for example leading the community to the source of food.

Males seldom leave the community where they were born.

Female chimpanzees usually migrate to a new community during an adolescent period.

Like Gorillas, chimpanzees travel mostly on the ground by knuckle-walking.

Mother chimps often travel alone with their offspring.

Chimpanzees construct nests at night in which to sleep – like Gorillas, chimpanzees sleep in nests and make new nests every day.

Chimpanzee males in the wild cooperatively hunt for meat.

Their diet is mainly fruits, stems leaves with regular amounts of insects, as well as birds and small mammals.

Females give birth every four to five years and their gestation period is eight to nine months.

Chimpanzees have a long mother-infant dependency time. Infants will nurse on their mothers for five years and stay with their mothers several more years learning to care for younger siblings.

Chimpanzees’ life span is approximately 40 to 50 years in the wild and over 50 to 60 years in captivity.

The genitalia of both sexes is prominent. Areas of the female’s genital skin become pink during estrus, a period that lasts two to three weeks and occurs every four to six weeks.