WHERE DO CHIMPS LIVE?
The chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) and the bonobo (Pan paniscus, which is now considered by some scientists to be a separate species of ape and not a chimp at all) inhabit only a few dwindling areas across the middle of Africa. This region of the continent used to comprise a near-solid belt of trees that provided habitat to chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and a host of other African rainforest species. This once-great forest is now broken into scattered patches of rainforest habitat due to the extensive logging, both legal and illegal, that has taken place in recent decades.
The map shows chimp habitat spanning 21 African countries from the west coast of the continent east through the vast central-African nation of Congo (formerly Zaire) to the western reaches of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania.
Click HERE to see a larger map
Generally speaking, the chimp is a rain forest creature. However, the animals are also able to inhabit drier and less densely treed areas, provided they have access to stands of forest where they can take shelter and search for food. Chimps on the western border of the species’ range can even be found living on the savanna–that vast, grassy African plain that many of us imagine when we think of African wildlife. However, savanna-dwelling chimps do not seem to stray far from the forest edges.
The world’s foremost authority on chimpanzees is Dr. Jane Goodall, who has studied them for decades in their natural habitat. Dr. Goodall’s website is a terrific resource for anyone who wants to learn more about the question of where chimps live, or anything else chimpanzee related. Dr. Goodall conducted most of her research at Gombe National Park (formerly Gombe Stream Reserve) in the western part of the East African nation of Tanzania. —Paul Guernsey