All About Chimpanzee Tracking in Africa

Chimpanzee Tracking Africa Guide 2021

Chimpanzees are some of the great primates mainly known for having 98.7% DNA close to that of humans. Though these wonderful creatures can be found on several other continents in the world; they are indigenous to the African continent. Thus Chimpanzees in the wild can only be found on the African continent.

Countries such as Egypt, Morocco, South Africa, Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, Madagascar, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania; are some of the biggest African tourist destinations. Unfortunately out of all these, chimpanzee tracking can only be done in Tanzania specific to the Eastern chimpanzee species.

There are two chimpanzee species namely; Common chimpanzee and Bonobos.

  1. Common Chimpanzees

The common chimpanzees compose the biggest sum of the total chimpanzee population in the whole world. These can be subdivided into four subspecies.

The Eastern Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii)

Western Uganda, Rwanda, and Western Tanzania, Burundi, South Eastern Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo are some of the Eastern chimpanzee destinations in the whole of Africa. However, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Uganda are the most visited Chimpanzee destinations in the whole of Africa.

All these three countries share a subspecies of the Eastern chimpanzee also known as long-haired chimpanzees.

The Eastern chimpanzees have an estimated total population of between 18,000 and 22,000, the Democratic Republic of Congo having the majority, followed by Uganda and Tanzania.

Due to the security threats in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chimpanzee tracking is mainly done in Kibale forest national park in Uganda, Mahale mountains national park, and Nyungwe forest of Rwanda.

These three countries share a total Chimpanzee population of around 8000; 5000 found in Uganda, over 2000 in Tanzania, and less than 500 in Rwanda.

The Western Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes Verus)

The western chimpanzees are also known as the masked chimpanzees. Though often at times, people just hear of how closely chimpanzees try to behave and adapt to some of the Stone Age human behavior, not all chimpanzees have these traits.

The masked chimpanzees are mainly known for being able to make wooden spears as aids for hunting, use caves as homes instead of nests, share food amongst themselves which is not a common activity among other species, use tree branches and stones to crack nuts.

One of the most outstanding features among the western chimpanzees is their duo-nocturnal trait.

These chimpanzees are found in Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Liberia, Senegal, Mali, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, and Sierra Leone with an estimated population between 15,000 and 65,000. They are believed to be extinct in Togo, Burkina-Faso, and Benin

Unlike among gorillas where there are specific differences in appearance and sizes, there are relatively minor differences among these four species when it comes to appearance, rather the distinctions are mainly drawn based on behavior.

The central Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes troglodytes)

The central chimpanzees are indigenous to Cameroon, Gabon, Republic of Congo, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. They are also known as the black-faced Chimpanzee.

In terms of distribution, they have a population of around 140,000making them the most populated sub-species of the common Chimpanzee.

Though Chimpanzees are known for being hydrophobic, the central chimpanzees live in lowland tropical forests and Swamps. Central chimpanzees are some of the African primates that suffer a lot of poaching more so in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Republic of Congo.

The Nigeria-Cameroon Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes vellerosus)

Nigeria-Cameroon Chimpanzee is the least in terms of population amongst all the four common chimpanzee subspecies. However, measures are being undertaken to ensure that these wonderful apes are preserved. This makes Nigeria the home to two of the most endangered primate species of the African continent.

The current Nigeria-Cameroon Chimpanzee total population is assumed to be less than 6,600 and dropping due to lack of formalized strategies in most of the locations to preserve these apes.

The geographic range of chimpanzees. / Author: User:Cody.pope. Public domain.

  1. Bonobos (Pan paniscus)

Bonobos are also known as the pygmy chimpanzee native to the Congo basin. All the other subspecies of the common chimpanzee are separated from the bonobos by the river Congo. Scientists believe that the separation by River Congo might be the reason why there was a genetic mutation/change to form the species of the bonobos.

Bonobo Safaris in DR Congo Basin

Bonobos in the wild can only be found in the Democratic Republic of Congo with a population of between 28,000 and 50,000.