Fun facts about chimpanzees – Rwanda chimpanzee trekking / rwanda chimp tours
Fun facts about chimpanzees that any visitor should know before embarking on a chimpanzee trekking tour in Rwanda. Chimpanzees are regarded as the close relatives to the human species, given the fact that they share about 95% to 98% of their DNA with human beings.
Rwanda is one of the most popular destinations for chimpanzee trekking tours in Africa. Chimpanzee trekking activities in Rwanda are conducted in Nyungwe Forest National Park. The national park is part of the renowned Nyungwe forest, which is regarded as one of the most biologically diverse protected areas on the African continent.
Nyungwe national park was gazetted as a national park in 2004 and covers an area of about 1,000 square kilometers. The national park is home to about 25% of all primate species in Africa, including over 500 habituates chimpanzees that live within the park’s tropical rain forests. This national park is the ideal place to be for any visitors looking to see chimpanzees in the wild. If you are one of those people who just love apes, here are some interesting facts about chimpanzees that you might find interesting to know;
- Chimpanzees are referred to by other names/terms.
Chimpanzees are also known as the common chimpanzee, robust chimpanzee or simply chimps. In addition to this, the species is scientifically known as ‘Pan Troglodytes.’ They are one of the four types of ‘great apes,’ along with bonobos, gorillas and orangutans.
- How do Chimpanzees look like?
Chimpanzees are covered in coarse black hair on their entire body, with a bare face, fingers, toes, palms, and on the soles of their feet. Chimps have a larger, heavier and stronger body build than bonobos, also known as pygmy chimpanzees.
- Chimpanzee Habitats.
Chimpanzees are native to the African Continent. This means that if you want to see chimps in wild/ natural habitats, you will have to travel to Africa. The best destinations for visitors to see chimpanzees in the wild are; Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Chimpanzees inhabit a wide range of habitats such as tropical rainforests, swap forests, montane rain forests, less densely vegetated forest savannah areas. They live in altitudes of up to 3000 meters
- How closely related are Chimpanzees to humans?
Chimpanzees and humans share about 95-98 percent of the same DNA, which means that chimps are more closely relate to us than they are to gorillas. Chimpanzees are so intelligent in that they are capable of learning human sign languages such as ASL (American Sign Language). This is common especially for chimpanzees in captivity like Washoe, a female chimpanzee who knew over 240 signs.
Just like humans, chimpanzees too make and use tools like rocks, sticks, grass and even leaves when going about their daily lifestyles such as hunting and acquiring food like honey, termites, ants, nuts and water. These primate species can also catch or be infected with human diseases like a common cold/ flu, cough, Ebola and even the corona virus.
- How big or strong are Chimpanzees and how much do chimps weigh?
Chimpanzees can weigh about 40 to 60kg for the males and female chimps can weigh between 27 to 50kg, and can reach a height of 100 to 140 cm tall when standing on two feet.
- Gestation period of Chimpanzees.
Female chimpanzees have a gestation period of eight months. Newly born chimpanzees are called infants, and they are weaned at about three years old. Infants usually maintain a close relationship with their mothers for several years before actually becoming independent.
- Are Chimpanzees social apes?
Chimpanzees are actually social apes/primates just like humans are. Chimps live in groups which range from 15 to 150 members, although they travel and form smaller groups during the day in search for food.
- Are chimpanzees an endangered species or going extinct?
Yes, chimpanzees are actually an endangered species, with their survival under threat by factors such as poaching, disease and habitat loss from large-scale deforestation and encroachment on their territories. Chimpanzees have been listed on the IUCN Red List as an endangered species, with their populations in the wild estimated to be around 170,000 to 300,000 individuals.
- Chimpanzees subspecies.
The Chimpanzee is said to have four known subspecies which include; the Central chimpanzee which is also known as tschego or Pan troglodytes troglodytes, the Western chimpanzee, also known as West African chimpanzee or Pan troglodytes verus, the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee which is also known as Pan troglodytes ellioti, and the Eastern chimpanzee which is also referred to as Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii.
Where can one see Chimpanzees in Rwanda?
Visitors interested in tracking chimpanzees during your visit to Rwanda can do so at Nyungwe Forest National Park, with the cyamudongo forest being the best place for chimpanzee trekking activities. A chimpanzee tracking permit in Nyungwe National Park costs USD 60 dollars per person and the activities lasts between 2- 6 hours. Tracking begins at exactly 8 am from three major points which are; Uwinka, Kitabi and Gisakura.
Visitors interested in doing chimpanzee trekking activities in Nyungwe national park should endeavor to be at the park by 5am for registration and a briefing from the head ranger in the park.
Best time to trek chimpanzees in Nyungwe National Park.
The best time for visitors to trek chimpanzees in Nyungwe national park is during the dry season which are between December-February and from June- August.
How to get to Nyungwe National park in Rwanda.
Nyungwe Forest National Park can be accessed by either road or air. The national park is located in Butare district near Cyangugu town in the Southwestern part of Rwanda. It takes about 4-5 hours of driving from Kigali to Nyungwe, covering a total distance of 225km.
Other great destinations for chimpanzees trekking activities include Kibale National Park, Budongo forest, Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kalinzu Forest, and Toro-Semuliki wildlife reserve in Uganda.