Wednesday, 8 January 2014

#Apeweek Day 4 - The Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes)

Day 4 of #apeweek brings us to the Chimpanzee and the last of the 4 great apes. Probably the most well known of the great apes especially for their tool use, which we will come on to a bit later. It is the great Jane Goodall that we have to thank for raising the plight of the Chimpanzee to a worldwide audience. Her studies since the sixties has enabled us to learn so much about our closest relative, and we will look at that in more detail further on. So sit back and enjoy learning more about our cousin the Chimpanzee.

The Facts:
Size - Generally speaking Chimpanzees range from 74-96cm in length and 40-60kg in weight for males and 32-47kg in females.
Appearance - Black coat, a naked face and infants have this lovely white tail tuft. They also have pinkish to black skin on their faces, ears, palms of their hands, and soles of their feet. Bonobos, which are closely related, are generally lighter, a more slender build, red lips and the hair has a central parting.
Habitat - Mainly found in forest areas and in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Diet - Fruit, leaves, seeds, plant galls, animal prey including mammals, birds and insects. They also hunt other primates, especially colobus monkeys.
Life History - Gestation is around 8 months with sexual maturity being reached in males at around 13 years and females 11 years. Their life span is around the 50-60 year mark.
General behaviour - Active during the day and build nests in trees at night, the males are dominant within their social structure.

Bonobo with hair parting and red lips
Chimpanzee with lighter skin.

Tools Used by Chimpanzees:
Chimpanzees have been observed using a range of tools in the wild including:

  • Chewing up leaves to make a spongy wadge and using it to drink rainwater from an inaccessible tree hole
  • Cracking nuts with rocks or wood
  • Using a leafy stick as a fly whisk also selecting sticks, stripping off the leaves and sticking it in a termites nest then eating them once they have grabbed onto the stick
  • Making a sitting pad of leaves
  • Using leaves as napkins to clean the body, dab at wounds to inspect bleeding, or to provide a clean surface to inspect or squash and external parasite, such as a louse
  • Using objects as weapons, including branches as clubs and pieces of wood or rock as aimed projectiles

Chimpanzee cracking nuts with log
Chimpanzee fishing for termites

Check out this video about Chimpanzees using tools from the Jane Goodall Institute (Click here if the video above does not show)

The Chimpanzee is classed as endangered and their numbers are estimated to be around 172,000 - 3000,000 (IUCN red list). In fact in recent years that are said to have been made extinct within Burkina Faso and this is due to the threats they face.

  • Legal and illegal logging and habitat loss due to agriculture
  • Poaching for bushmeat and to sell Chimpanzees into the entertainment industry, unfortunately around 10-15 chimpanzees are killed in the capture of just one
  • Infectious diseases, especially the Ebola fever
  • Armed conflict and civil unrest putting pressure on their natural resources which in turn increases the threats mentioned above

Dr Jane Goodall

I have taken this profile of Dr Goodall from the organisation she founded the 'Jane Goodall Institute':

"In July 1960, at the age of 26, Jane Goodall traveled from England to what is today Tanzania and bravely entered the little-known world of wild chimpanzees. She was equipped with nothing more than a notebook and a pair of binoculars. But with her unyielding patience and characteristic optimism, she won the trust of these initially shy creatures. She managed to open a window into their sometimes strange and often familiar-seeming lives. The public was fascinated and remains so to this day.

Today, Jane’s work revolves around inspiring action on behalf of endangered species, particularly chimpanzees, and encouraging people to do their part to make the world a better place for people, animals, and the environment we all share. The Jane Goodall Institute works to protect the famous chimpanzees of Gombe National Park in Tanzania, but recognizes this can’t be accomplished without a comprehensive approach that addresses the needs of local people who are critical to chimpanzee survival. Our community-centered conservation programs in Africa include sustainable development projects that engage local people as true partners. These programs began around Gombe in 1994, but have since been replicated in other parts of the continent. Likewise, Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots, which Jane started with a group of Tanzania students in 1991, is today the Institute’s global environmental and humanitarian youth program for young people from preschool through university with nearly 150,000 members in more than 120 countries."

Organisations working to save the Chimpanzee:

Primates of the World, Ian Redmond, 2010