Celebrating a unique and vital species

by
Africa Geographic Editorial team
Friday, 12 July 2019

It was on the 14th July, 1960 that Dr. Jane Goodall first stepped foot in what is now Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania, to study wild chimpanzees. She called attention to the remarkable chimpanzee and to this day, six decades later, advocates on their behalf.

World Chimpanzee Day (14 July) provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of the care, protection, and conservation of chimpanzees in the wild and in captivity. In honour of this day we celebrate this unique species with this gallery of stunning photos. And they’re not just any photos, they’re some of the incredible photos submitted during our Photographer of the Year 2016, 2018 and 2019 competitions.

Chimpanzees live in western and central African primary and secondary woodlands and forests, farmland and fallow oil palm plantations. They are the smallest of the great apes, and our closest living relative. They are the most abundant and widespread of the great apes (population estimate 345,000 to 470,000), and yet are classified as ‘Endangered’ on IUCN’s Red List because of high levels of poaching, infectious diseases, and loss of habitat and deterioration of habitat quality. There has been a significant population reduction in the past 20-30 years and it is suspected that this reduction will continue for the next 30-40 years.

Chimpanzees are completely protected by national and international laws in all countries of their range, and it is, therefore, illegal to kill, capture or trade in live chimpanzees or their body parts. This legal standing however does not prevent the killing of chimpanzees throughout their ranges. That said, the estimated population reduction over three generations (75 years) from 1975 to 2050 is suspected to exceed 50%. Major risk factors include the ongoing rapid growth of human populations, poaching for bushmeat and the commercial bushmeat trade, diseases that are transferable from humans to animals (such as Ebola), the extraction industries (mining and logging) and industrial agriculture, corruption and lack of law enforcement, lack of capacity and resources, and political instability in some range states.

These stats do not bode well for the future of chimpanzees, and their need for protection is more dire than ever. However, as much as it sounds like doom and gloom for this species, there is a silver lining. With events like World Chimpanzee Day, and the countless number of conservation groups and organisations fighting for their survival, the spotlight is being shone on these fascinating and complex creatures. They deserve all the protection they can get, and we can only hope that their future will be a bright one. SCROLL DOWN to see our chimpanzee gallery. 

The more I came to learn about chimpanzees the more I came to realise how like us they are… Finally we realise we are a part of the animal kingdom not separate from it.” – Dr. Jane Goodall DBE, Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace

Trek for chimpanzees with Africa Geographic

There are a number of places in Africa to trek for chimpanzees, from the accessible highland forests of Kibale in Uganda to Rwanda’s Nyungwe, where the sheer biodiversity on offer will leave you speechless, to the remote forests of Mahale in Tanzania, where the chimps often venture onto the shores of Lake Tanganyika.

Each option has its own unique appeal and other available activities. Trekking for chimps is best woven into a larger itinerary, due to the distances and logistics involved.

Travel in Africa is about knowing when and where to go, and with whom. A few weeks too early / late and a few kilometres off course and you could miss the greatest show on Earth. And wouldn’t that be a pity? Search for your ideal safari here, or contact an Africa Geographic safari consultant to plan your dream vacation.

A chimpanzee grooms a youngster in Kibale National Park, Uganda © Artur Stankiewicz

A chimpanzee grooms a youngster in Kibale National Park, Uganda © Artur Stankiewicz (Photographer of the Year 2019 entrant)

A chimpanzee in Kibale National Park, Uganda © Yaron Schmid

A chimpanzee in Kibale National Park, Uganda © Yaron Schmid (Photographer of the Year 2019 entrant)

A vocal chimpanzee in Kibale National Park, Uganda © Fi Goodall (Photographer of the Year 2018 entrant)

A chimpanzee in Kibale Forest National Park, Uganda © Andrea Galli

A chimpanzee reflects in Kibale National Park, Uganda © Andrea Galli (Photographer of the Year 2018 entrant)

A chimpanzee walks through Kibale National Park in Uganda © Patrice Quillard

A chimpanzee walks through Kibale National Park in Uganda © Patrice Quillard (Photographer of the Year 2019 entrant)

Threat display from a chimpanzee in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda © Thorsten Hanewald

Threat display from a chimpanzee in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda © Thorsten Hanewald (Photographer of the Year 2018 entrant)

“The wise one” in Kibale National Park, Uganda © Prelena Soma Owen (Photographer of the Year 2018 Finalist)

“The wise one” in Kibale National Park, Uganda © Prelena Soma Owen (Photographer of the Year 2018 Finalist)

The feet of a chimpanzee in Kibale Forest National Park, Uganda © Andrea Galli

Hand and feet of a chimpanzee in Kibale Forest National Park, Uganda © Andrea Galli (Photographer of the Year 2018 entrant)

A chimpanzee gazes up into the trees in Kibale National Park, Uganda © Andrea Galli

A chimpanzee gazes up into the trees in Kibale National Park, Uganda © Andrea Galli (Photographer of the Year 2018 entrant)

Quiet contemplation in Kibale National Park, Uganda © Patrice Quillard

Quiet contemplation in Kibale National Park, Uganda © Patrice Quillard (Photographer of the Year 2019 entrant)

A young chimpanzee builds a nest for napping in Kibale National Park, Uganda © Patrice Quillard

A young chimpanzee builds a nest for napping in Kibale National Park, Uganda © Patrice Quillard (Photographer of the Year 2019 entrant)

Eye to eye with a chimpanzee in Kibale National Park, Uganda © Thorsten Hanewald

Eye to eye with a chimpanzee in Kibale National Park, Uganda © Thorsten Hanewald (Photographer of the Year 2018 entrant)

FLY WITH AIRLINK

The Africa Geographic team flies with Airlink, who offer multi-destination flight options across southern Africa (and to Madagascar) and a convenient Lodge Link program, direct to popular lodges in the greater Kruger National Park and beyond.

Further reading

THE CHIMPANZEE – OUR FOREST KIN

Chimpanzees are under serious pressure and facing an uncertain future, largely because of the antics of that other great ape, Homo sapiens. But there is hope, because chimpanzees are a resilient species living in vast swathes of equatorial forest in the heart of Africa. Read more in our story The Chimpanzee – Our Forest Kin.

The Chimpanzee

 

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