Chimpanzees are very fascinating and thought after wild creatures in world, setting a look at them is the most astonishing thing in ones memory. Chimpanzees share about 98% of their genes with humans and they exist in only four sub species; the Western Chimpanzees “pan troglodyte’s verus”, the Nigeria Cameroon Chimpanzees (pan troglodytes ellioti), the Central Chimpanzee (pan troglodytes) and the Eastern Chimpanzees (pan troglodyte schweinfurthi). In Africa, the remarkable Eastern Chimpanzees are found in stable conservation areas along the Albertine Rift escarpments in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). About 8000 of the Eastern Chimpanzees are found outside DRC and over 37000 of them found refuge in Maiko Tayna-Massif-Kahuzi landscape which comprises of the Kabobo Massif in the South, via Kahuzi Biega National Park to Maiko National Park and Tayna Forest region. In Ituri Forest in Northeastern Congo, there are over 12000 chimpanzees and a 3rd of them are in conservation areas of Okapi Fauna Reserve and this makes DRC one of the leading countries with the largest Eastern chimpanzees in Africa. They are also distributed in Western Uganda, Rwanda and Western Tanzania while others are found within the isolated areas in Burundi and South Eastern Sudan. Currently, there are about 200000 to 250000 eastern chimpanzees that are in the world.
The Eastern Chimpanzees mainly live in the lowland and sub-montane tropical forests and forest galleries as well as the savanna woodland areas. They live in high densities of about 1000 to 2000 meters above sea level. The montane forests at higher altitudes are not favorable to chimpanzees as they might be favorable to mountain gorillas. Eastern chimpanzees live in communities of about 20 to 150 members however; their home ranges are a bit bigger around the woodland forest mosaics than in mixed forest.
The Eastern chimpanzees are one of the biggest chimpanzee sub species out of the four that are popularly known in the world and they are among a few wild primates that are protected by both national and international laws. Like any primates, the main threat to the Eastern Chimpanzees basically includes the following;
Despite killing, capturing or consumption of larger primates being illegal acts in the world; poaching currently contributes to the biggest threat to great primates in Eastern DRC. Chimpanzees generally have low population densities and slowest reproductive rate and this means that hunting these endangered species from their natural habitats with time will lead to their extinction. Chimpanzees are hunted for various reasons, one of them being for bush meat and this explains why poaching is rapidly taking place in artisan mining and logging camps in DRC where bush meat acts as the main source of proteins. Larger primates today are killed opportunistically just because they offer more meat than any smaller mammal species such as the Duikers. The other reasons include live trade, where a good number of these dramatic creatures are hunted while their infants are trafficked as pets; human wildlife conflicts and snares are also the other reason.
Other numerous threats to Eastern chimpanzees include habitat loss due to pressure for land for agriculture from adjacent communities that have encroached on chimpanzee habitat; mining activities, spread of diseases and climate change have also become the greatest threats in DRC. Because of several threats that have been posed on the Eastern Chimpanzees, today they are enlisted as endangered species in IUCN Red list.
Therefore, visiting DRC isn’t only for mountain gorillas or the Eastern Lowland gorillas but also for fascinating experiences with the unique Eastern chimpanzees that live in its dense jungles. Visit DRC for the best wild mountain gorillas and Eastern Lowland gorillas as well as Eastern Chimpanzees.