Chimpanzee are our closest relative in the animal kingdom and they possess many traits eerily similar to humans, which is not surprising given that they share over 95% of their DNA with us. These cheeky primates have oodles of personality and are larger in real life than many people perceive them to be. Chimpanzee trekking is a popular activity in certain countries in Africa, with a sought after destination being Uganda’s tract of tropical forest in Kibale National Park. Neighbouring Rwanda and Tanzania also offer ample opportunity to go chimpanzee trekking, with a highlight being the small and unknown Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania.
Diet: Fruit, Meat and General Vegetation
Chimpanzees are omnivorous frugivore primates and certainly don’t shy away from opportunities to feed. A frugivore favours fruit over other foods, and will actively seek out areas abundant with supplies of fruit. A chimpanzee will happily indulge in vegetation such as leaves, seeds, blossoms, and bark. The protein-packed meaty portion of their diet is roughly 2%. The protein sources come from small to medium-sized prey, which includes anything from insects to primates and common mammals. A favourite chimp delicacy is the western red colobus monkey.
There have even been rare cases of cannibalism within the chimp world, which is not unusual in the animal kingdom. This often happens when a dominant male kills the infant of a female within the family group. There have also been instances of sub-adult chimps killing an unpopular leader. Never underestimate a chimp’s capacity for violence and aggression!
Behaviour: Vocal, Aggressive and Entertaining
Chimps are not afraid of declaring war with neighbouring groups. They do this in an effort to invade territories. To claim neighbouring territories, gangs will move in aggressively and carry out excessively violent behaviour killing any rival chimp. They do this to expand territory and ensure they have an ample and endless supply of food. Expanding territory also means your gene pool is dominant within an area.
A chimp’s vocalisations convey a variety of meaning, and there are over 30 different calls they use to communicate. They combine these vocal calls with different body postures and facial expressions to display emotion. They certainly do have a deep and complex way of communicating, just like their Homosapien relatives!
It goes without saying that Chimps have earned a reputation for being cheeky. They’re an odd combination of aggression and playfulness. While you’re chimpanzee trekking you’ll notice the gangs swinging from vine to vine, and deliberately cackling as they swing past. They’ve been known to sit in the tops of trees, munch on local fruits and toss them onto their onlookers below.
Health: Chimps Suffer from Conditions Similar to Humans
There are actually a few human viruses that have the ability to kill the great primates of the world. This makes sense given that chimpanzee share a DNA with us humans. The gorilla and chimp numbers have declined due to Ebola, which is also contracted by humans. Chimps have also been to known to suffer from respiratory disease. HIV also originated from chimps and other primates.
Fancy chimpanzee trekking in Africa? Now that you’re armed with a few facts, we suggest you get started with the booking process. Here are a few recommend lodges. We recommend Crater Safari Lodge on the banks of the Nyinabulitwa Crater Lake, and a few minutes drive from Kibale National Park for chimp trekking.