Wild Chimpanzees are found throughout central and western Africa including Sierra Leone, Uganda, Guinea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon and Tanzania.
Chimpanzees are our closest living relative sharing approximately 98.7% of our DNA. Chimpanzees can show a wide range of emotions including fear, screaming when scared, hugging for comfort, smiling or laughing when happy. Chimpanzees are highly intelligent and in some studies have even been taught to use sign language as a form of communication. Chimpanzees can make and use a wide range of tools, including rocks as hammers, sticks or grass stems as fishing devices for termites and ants and leaves as sponges or to build nests. Chimpanzee troops are led by an alpha male and each chimp within the troop forms part of a hierarchy.
Chimpanzees are classified as an endangered species with approximately 150,000 to 300,000 chimps remaining in the wild. Chimpanzees face many threats in the wild. The major threat is habitat loss due to logging, mining, palm oil plantations and population growth. Chimpanzees are also hunted for the bushmeat trade, where Chimpanzee meat and body parts can be sold on the black market for high profits.
Chimpanzees are also captured for the illegal wildlife trade, where young chimps are sold as pets for entertainment. Due to the genetic similarity between Chimpanzees and humans, Chimpanzees are highly susceptible to human disease. As human population swells disease such as Ebola, polio and even the human flu can have a devastating impact on entire Chimpanzee communities.
Zoos SA supports Chimpanzee conservation projects in Africa through raising awareness at zoo keeper talks, Behind the Scenes Animal Experiences and through community campaigns. We also provide conservation support and funds to both the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary and the Jane Goodall Institute Tchimpounga Sanctuary in Africa.