Chimpanzee in Tanzania

Chimpanzee in Swahili: sokwe-mtu (Pan troglodytes)

Standing height: 100 cm; weight: up to 55 kg. This distinctive black-coated ape, along with the bonobo (Pan paniscus) of the southern Congo, is more closely related to humans than to any other living creature. The chimpanzee lives in large troops based around a core of related males dominated by an alpha male. Females aren’t firmly bonded to their core group, so emigration between communities is normal. Primarily frugivores (fruit-eaters), chimpanzee eat meat on occasion, and though most kills are opportunistic, stalking of prey is not unusual. The first recorded instance of chimp using a tool was at Gombe Stream in Tanzania, where modified sticks were used to ‘fish’ in termite mounds. In West Africa, chimps have been observed cracking open nuts with a stone and anvil. In the USA, captive chimps have successfully been taught sign language and have created compound words such as ‘rock-berry’ to describe a nut. A widespread rainforest resident, the chimpanzee is thought to number 200,000 in the wild. In Tanzania, chimps are indigenous to the forested shore of Lake Tanganyika, where they can be tracked on foot in Mahale Mountains and Gombe Stream national parks (the latter the site of the original research centre founded by primatologist Jane Goodall in the 1960s). In northern Tanzania, an introduced (but to all intents and purposes wild) population can be visited on Rubondo Island in Lake Victoria.

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