Scientific Name : Pan troglodytes
Chimpanzees are the closest relatives of humankind and geneticists have determined that our two species share 98% of their DNA. It is not surprising then, that these muscular primates display numerous behaviours which make them fascinating to watch. They have been the subject of intense study for over three decades at Gombe Stream in Tanzania, and primatologists have observed and monitored them at numerous other localities in central and eastern Africa. Chimps live in communities which usually number up to ten but may be very much larger depending upon habitat and food resources. The communities are dominated by mature males which spend their whole life in an ancestral home range. Sexually mature females must move to neighbouring troops. Infants are born after an eight month pregnancy, weaned at five years and become sexually active at around eight, although they cannot conceive until the age of 12 or 13. Forest of one kind or another is the habitat of chimpanzees and they may also be seen on the fringe of savannah in gallery or ravine forest. Like ourselves, they are omnivorous, feeding on fruit as well insects (especially termites), birds, eggs and nestlings, small mammals and even monkeys, which are pursued and trapped in a carefully coordinated hunt. Social grooming is important group behaviour which maintains the hierarchy among adults. Facial expressions are as varied as our own, and over 30 recognisable sounds are made. Young chimps laugh, tickle each other and cry.