Chimpanzees are social animals and live in communities, usually led by an alpha male of the species. Healthy female chimpanzees will usually produce an offspring approximately every five years. They are omnivores, consuming a diet of plants and animals. Chimpanzees are about four feet tall and weigh between 60 and 120 pounds. They usually walk on all four limbs, but have the ability to walk erect on their two legs.
Chimpanzees are an endangered species. More than fifty years ago one million chimpanzees lived in Africa. It is estimated that only between 100,000 to 200,000 chimpanzees currently live in the wild.
Why are Chimpanzees Endangered? – Chimpanzee Habitat
Chimpanzees are native to the continent of Africa, and primarily live in tropical rainforests. They also live in woodlands, bamboo forests, swamps and grasslands.
Since the 1960’s, much of the chimpanzee’s habitat has been destroyed. Rainforests and their surroundings have been converted into farmland. A substantial number of trees have been cut down to supply the logging industry. Land has been cleared for the addition of new roads.
It has become increasingly difficult for chimpanzees to find the food and shelter necessary to propagate their species. Chimpanzees are beginning to live shorter lives and are producing a decreasing number of offspring.
Why are Chimpanzees Endangered? – Chimpanzee Capture
Baby chimpanzees are illegally captured in the wild and sold as pets. They are also sold to research facilities. When a baby chimpanzee is captured, the mother chimpanzee and others in the chimpanzee community will fight back in an attempt to prevent the baby’s capture and are killed. It is likely that at least ten chimpanzees are killed in each capture.
Why are Chimpanzees Endangered? – Chimpanzee Hunting
Over 4000 chimpanzees are killed every year by hunters. Although the meat of chimpanzees, called bushmeat, has been consumed by local residents for hundreds of years, the majority of chimpanzee bushmeat is now illegally sold by hunters on the black market. This has become a very lucrative business at the expense of the endangered chimpanzee population.
Why are Chimpanzees Endangered? – Volcanoes
There are active volcanoes in the some of the regions of the chimpanzee’s habitat. On January 2, 2010, the Mount Nyamuragira volcano, located near the city of Virunga Park in the Republic of Congo, erupted and destroyed much of the habitat of the nearby chimpanzee community. Although there have been no reports of chimpanzee deaths from the January 2nd eruption, chimpanzees living near the Mount Nyamuragira volcano and other active volcanoes are under a constant threat of another eruption in the future.
Why are Chimpanzees Endangered? – Chimpanzee Diseases
Chimpanzees living in the wild are susceptible to many of the same diseases as humans. The ebola virus has caused the death of many chimpanzees, and may continue to infect large numbers of the primate. SIV, Simian Immunodeficiency Virus, is another fatal disease of the chimpanzee population. Chimpanzees are also vulnerable to the deadly disease of malaria.
Why are Chimpanzees Endangered? – Why it is Important
Both chimpanzees and humans belong to the Homindae family. Chimpanzees are man’s closest living relatives. Chimpanzees and humans have 98.7 percent of the same DNA sequence. By observing and investigating chimpanzees in their natural environment, we may be able to learn more about our own heritage and origins.