Are Chimpanzees Endangered?
Are chimpanzees endangered? Chimpanzees are endangered species of primates sharing about 98% of their DNA with human beings that’s why they are our closest relatives. There were over 1,000,000 chimpanzees surviving in the wild in about 25 African countries in the past centuries but the number kept on decreasing to a range of 250,000-150,000 in the wild today and they are now in only 6 African countries of Africa.
The largest population of chimpanzees can be found in Uganda, Gabon, Cameroon, and DR Congo. But other countries which have chimpanzees but in small numbers include Rwanda, Equatorial Guinea, Sudan, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, and Burundi. Chimpanzees used to live in Burkina Faso, Benin, Togo, and Gambia but no more.
Chimpanzees are divided into western chimpanzees which live in the western part of Africa with the biggest concentration in Guinea and Cote D’Ivoire but others can be seen in Mali, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Central chimpanzees living mostly in the African countries of Cameroon, the Republic of Congo, and Gabon. A small population of these chimpanzees also lives in the Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, and DR Congo. Eastern chimpanzees are found in many countries of Africa including Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Sudan, Tanzania, Central African Republic, and DR Congo. Lastly, the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee inhabits in the rainforests of Africa covering parts of Cameroon and Nigeria.
Chimpanzees are omnivores animals feeding mainly on honey, fruits, leaves, leaf buds, stems, seeds, bark, flowers, and pith. They also eat birds, eggs, insects, ants, termites and sometimes hunt for wildlife like yellow baboons, red-tailed monkeys, duikers, warthogs, bushbucks, and small antelopes for meat.
What are the main threats to chimpanzees?
The biggest threats to chimpanzees are poaching habitat loss, hunting for bushmeat, and diseases. These threats differ from region to region
The degradation of forests through mining, logging, farming, industrialization, and settlement is largely contributing to the decline of chimpanzees in Africa. The remaining habitat of these primates is often small and unconnected which leaves the chimpanzee population isolated.
Hunting for bushmeat
In countries of central and west Africa, bushmeat has always been a primary source of dietary protein. Hunting for bushmeat in these countries is a subsistence activity and has become heavily commercialized with most of the meat going to urban residents who can afford to pay premium prices for it. the increased demand for bushmeat has led to a decrease in the chimpanzee population with rich people finding it prestigious eating chimpanzee meat hence encouraging more hunting of these primates and other wild animals as well.
Most of the time chimpanzees fall in traps being set for animals such as antelopes and this has resulted in a decrease in their numbers as most of them die from bad injuries caused by the traps. Other times chimpanzees are being trafficked abroad to rick folks to be used as pets or for private zoos. When they are capturing these young chimpanzees, they sometimes kill their mothers because they can be so aggressive and kill their predators.
Chimpanzees are being endangered by diseases such as Ebola most especially the one of 2002 which was reported in the north of the Republic of Congo on the borders with Gabon. Chimpanzees easily die in large numbers in case one of them gets infected and spreads to others and this is because they have a weak immune system.
Best places to see chimpanzees in Africa
Mahale mountains national park – Tanzania
Located on the eastern shores of Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania, Mahale is one of the best places to trek chimpanzees in Africa. Mahale mountains national park gets its name from mountain Mahale located within its boundaries.
Where to stay in Mahale mountains national park
During a chimpanzee trekking safari in Mahale national park, there are lots of accommodation facilities ranging from budget to mid-range to luxury, and where to stay depends on your budget. Accommodation facilities here include Mbali Mbali Mahale Lodge, Greystoke Mahale camp, Nkugwe tented camp, Mahale classic lodge, Mahale classic lodge, Mbali Mbali Gombe lodge among others.
Nyungwe forest national park – Rwanda
Nyungwe forest national park is located in the southwestern part of Rwanda bordering DR Congo and Lake Kivu. the most done activity in Nyungwe national park is chimpanzee trekking and it has over 400 individuals alongside other 12 primates. the park has 2 habituated chimpanzee families with 60 staying in Nyungwe and about 30 in Cyamudongo forest. While trekking chimpanzees in Nyungwe forest national park, there is an opportunity of seeing other animals such as black-faced monkeys, Mona monkeys, l’hoest’s monkeys, owl-faced monkeys, blue monkeys, vervet monkeys, dent’s monkeys, Rwenzori colobus, olive baboons, silver monkeys, and black and white colobus monkeys.
Where to stay in Nyungwe forest national park
Nyungwe forest national park has a lot of accommodation facilities ranging from budget to mid-range to luxury and these include Nyungwe House, Gisakura Guest House, Only&Only Nyungwe House, Nyungwe Top View Hill Hotel, and Gishakura family hostel among others.
Kibale forest national park – Uganda
Kibale national park is located in the western part of Uganda. The Park was gazetted in 1995 and is home to over 1500 chimpanzees making it the best place to trek chimpanzees in Africa. there are two habituated chimpanzee families in Kibale forest national park that are open for trekking at any time of the year. The trekking is done by persons above the age of 12 and it’s done in groups of 8 people who are led by an armed ranger to the forest. tourists trekking chimpanzees in Kibale forest national park have an opportunity of seeing other 12 primates such as L’hoest monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, vervet monkeys, blue monkeys, black and white colobus, olive baboons, Uganda red colobus, Demidoff Galago, grey-cheeked mangabeys, potto, patas monkeys, and Uganda mangabey.
Where to stay in Kibale forest national park
Kibale forest national park has several accommodation facilities ranging from budget to mid range to luxury and where to stay depends on your budget. Some of the accommodation facilities in Kibale forest national park include primate lodge, Kibale forest lodge, Rwenzori guest house, chimps nest, Kibale forest camp, Ndali Kasenda, primate lodge and so many others.
Rules and regulations of chimpanzee trekking
- Chimpanzee trekking is done by people above the age of 12 years
- A maximum number of 8 people is allowed to trek chimpanzees
- Persons with communicable diseases such as flu, cough, and diarrhea are not allowed to trek chimpanzees
- You are advised to keep a distance of 7 meters when you are with chimpanzees
- After locating chimpanzees, you will be given a maximum of 1 hour to observe their behaviors and take photos
- When you feel like urinating or a long call you are advised to inform your ranger guide to dig for you a whole after which you have to cover it.
- You are advised not to eat, smoke, or drink near chimpanzees
- You are advised to keep low voices when trekking chimpanzees
- Use of flash cameras is strongly prohibited as this can make chimpanzees charge
What to pack for chimpanzee trekking?
Ensure that you have good hiking waterproof shoes for easy movement, long trousers, a long-sleeved shirt, a valid trekking permit, drinking water, energy-giving snacks, a hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, face mask, sanitizer, good quality camera, and binoculars to see distant objects among others.