Where Do Chimpanzees Live


"Where do chimpanzees live?"  They are native to the forests of Africa, especially in the tropical parts of the continent.  The rest of the geographical side of that question depends on which species of chimpanzee you’re talking about.  In all, there are more than 20 African countries that have chimpanzees living between their borders, although only 10 of those have chimpanzee populations that are over 1,000 chimps. 


The common chimpanzee is mostly limited to western and central Africa between Senegal and Tanzania.  The pygmy chimpanzee, also known as the bonobo variety, lives mainly in Zaire between the Kasai and Zaire rivers.  Both species of chimpanzee favor tropical rainforest areas, however, the common chimpanzee prefers higher elevations between sea level and 6,000 feet above sea level.  The pygmy chimpanzee lives in rainforests that are 5,000 feet below sea level. 


Another side of the question “Where do chimpanzees live?” is basically a question of how their communities are developed.  Chimpanzees usually live in fairly large groups that consist of several adult males, females, and baby chimpanzees.  A chimpanzee community can be as small as 12 chimps or even as large as 150 chimps. 


One interesting thing about the chimpanzee communities is how the animals keep from interbreeding with direct family members.  The male chimpanzees always stay in the same community they are born into, but female chimpanzees leave their homes and join a neighboring community after they become an adult.  Female chimpanzees usually reach the reproductive age around thirteen years old, although males are generally about sixteen years old before they reach the reproductive age. 


Typically a chimpanzee community splits up into smaller groups to spend the day in.  These smaller groups are called parties, and the purpose of splitting up is so the community can look for food in different parts of the forest.  The males of each party are generally in charge, and they communicate with the males of the other parties by drumming on the roots of trees.  This also allows the males to set up sleeping arrangements for the night before it arrives.


In most cases, female chimpanzees give birth to just one baby at a time.  They can give birth any time of the year, and the baby usually stays with the mother exclusively for the first two years of life.  Baby chimps stay close to their mothers for at least the first 10 years of life. 


One of the biggest problems for the chimpanzee’s habitat is deforestation.  This has driven chimpanzees further and further away, and some communities are now even living in wide open areas instead of the rain forest.  The chimps that live in the grasslands do still tend to stay close to the rainforests however, and experts warn that the chimpanzee could become endangered if deforestation continues in the African rainforests.  Chimpanzees can live up to the age of 50 or 60, so you can see how deforestation can threaten this long-lived species of animal.  Experts also blame hunting and exportation for the sinking number of chimpanzees in the wilds of Africa.