There are four subspecies: the central (P. t. troglodytes),
the western (P. t. verus), the eastern (P. t. schweinfurthii),
and the Nigeria-Cameroon (P. t. ellioti).
Chimpanzees are the most widespread of the apes, found in over 20
African countries ranging from Senegal in the west to Uganda and Tanzania
in the east. Not surprisingly, chimpanzees occupy the widest ecological
range of all the apes, living in a variety of habitats that include
tropical lowland forests, mosaic woodlands, and dry savanna woodlands.
Their diverse diet includes 300+ food types such as fruit, flowers,
leaves, seeds, small mammals and invertebrates.
not the only ape species documented to hunt, chimpanzees hunt at a
much greater frequency than other ape species. Hunting frequency varies
by chimpanzee population, with some groups hunting almost daily at
certain times of the year whereas others have never been observed
to hunt. Monkeys are the primary prey item.
are known for their extensive tool use, which varies depending on
population and is considered one of the best examples of non-human
culture. Tools are used primarily to extract food- for example, using
sticks to fish termites or ants and stones to crack nuts. Like the
other apes, chimpanzees build nests that are most often located in
Wild chimpanzee males and females reach reproductive maturity at 12-15
and 10-12 years of age, respectively. Once females reach maturity,
they typically give birth in six year intervals and produce three
to four offspring in a lifetime.
Chimpanzees live in multi-male, multi-female communities that comprise
from between 20 to over 100 individuals. The whole community is rarely
together but usually splits into smaller parties; this flexible social
system is referred to as fission-fusion. Females usually disperse
at sexual maturity, whereas males remain in their natal group for
their entire lifespan. As a result, males show much higher levels
of association than observed in gorillas or orangutans. Males work
cooperatively to patrol their territory; intercommunity interactions
are often very violent and can result in death.
are highly communicative, using both auditory and visual cues. Pant
hoots are one of the most distinguishable vocalizations and are
usually given when individuals are excited or asserting dominance.
In addition, barks are vocalized in hunting and snake alarms, and
combination barks or drumming are also used to communicate in different
Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified chimpanzees
as Endangered. Increased logging throughout chimpanzee habitat creates
a multifaceted problem. The logging itself causes habitat destruction
and fragmentation which limits forest availability and disrupts
the ecosystem. However, logging also leads to increased access to
previously undisturbed areas. This tends to lead to increased commercial
trade in bushmeat and disease transmission to chimpanzees and other
primates. Besides logging, mining and oil extraction are serious
threats to chimpanzees.
It is estimated that there were between 172,000 and 301,000 chimpanzees
in 2003, but this number is likely much lower today. Although much
of the chimpanzee population remains in protected areas, the effectiveness
with which these areas are managed and monitored is constantly put