January 02, 2022 | Bujo Safaris
Chimpanzees do not eat people, however, there have been cases of them attacking humans(with fatal attacks on children). Many instances of chimp attacks have been recorded including a pet chimpanzee attack in Stamford and the 2014 incident in Muhorro, Uganda when a chimpanzee ran away with baby.
Similar cases of chimpanzee attacks on humans were experienced in 2013 where a 7-year-old child in Bwikara, Kibale was attacked while walking in Kibale National Park. Related stories of chimpanzee attacks have also been recorded in Gombe National Park & Mahale National Park in Tanzania. Important note: a fully grown up chimp is 4-6 times stronger than an adult man.
There are many reasons why chimpanzees attack humans and most primarily habitat encroachment. When forests where these apes live are cleared, chimpanzees may be forced to get into the adjacent local communities. Besides, chimps can be very aggressive like humans and a fact that we have a lot in common- sharing up to 98% of their DNA and they can be unfriendly at times especially to unrelated individuals.
The primary food for chimpanzees include berries, leaves, seeds, fruits, barks and at times insects, honey, eggs but this is also on rare occasions. While they are largely vegetarians, at times they eat meat as they are known to hunt and kill small / young monkeys.
Compared to some mammals in the wild, chimpanzees are a few most intelligent, sociable and communicative creatures. They use tools like empty pods to scoop water, rocks to smash open nuts and sticks to tap termites.
Chimpanzees/ Pan Troglodytes, besides bonobos are the only 2 species of genus pan. These are the two closest living relatives to humans with chimpanzees having 98% of their DNA similar to that of humans. Chimpanzees are also among the 4 living Great Apes and the other 3 include gorillas, bonobos and orangutans. Wild chimpanzees can be spotted only in the tropical forests in Africa and they prefer living on altitudinal ranges of 3000m – 3500m above sea level. Others thrive in the less densely vegetated savanna mosaics, swamp forests and dry savannas.
There are fewer than 55,000 left in Africa with eastern chimpanzees inhabiting parts of Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Majority of them also live in Eastern Africa particularly in Western Uganda (Uganda is estimated to host over 5000 chimpanzees alone).
Top places to go chimpanzee tracking in Uganda include Budongo Forest, Kibale National Park, Kalinzu Forest & Kyambura Gorge. Chimpanzees in Tanzania are found in Mahale Mountains National Park(MMNP) and Gombe National Park in western region.A section of chimpanzees also lives in Burundi, South Sudan and Rwanda in Nyungwe Forest National Park & Gishwati-Mukura National Park.
In captivity, chimpanzees can live for 30-60 years unlike in the wild where these apes are said not to live more than 50 years. However, it is not easy to gauge how long chimps can live while in the wild.
Chimpanzees can climb, swing on trees and knuckle walk. They are also capable of walking upright using 2 feet. They live in communities or troops of up to 150 members and have hierarchies but with an adult Alpha male being the dominant.
At 13 years, female chimpanzees are believed to have reached their reproductive maturity. A single female chimpanzee gives birth to a single baby and on rare occasions, they produce twins. They take up to 8-9 months to give birth- a gestation period similar to that of humans.