The chimpanzee is one of our
closest living relatives

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Conservation Status:


  • Population of 300K in the wild
  • Communities include up to 150 individuals
  • Become independent at 4 years old

Quick Facts

Scientific name

Pan troglodytes


55 to 110 lb.


About 4 ft. tall

Life span

Up to 50 years






8 months


Humans and leopards


Where do chimpanzees live?

Chimpanzees can be found from Southern Senegal across the forested belt north of the Congo River to Western Uganda and Western Tanzania. Gombe National Park in Tanzania is the first park in Africa specifically created for chimpanzees.

Tags: DRC, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, East Africa, Southern Africa, West/Central Africa, Virunga, Cameroon View Africa | Habitat

Physical Characteristics

What are chimps?

Chimpanzees are one of our closest relatives, sharing about 98% of their genes with humans. They have thickset bodies with long arms that extend beyond their knees, short legs, opposable thumbs, and no tails. Much of their body is covered with long black hair, but the face, ears, fingers, and toes are bare.

Behavior & Diet

The chimpanzee is the mammal most like a human.

They are noisy, curious, intelligent, and social. Chimps live in loose communities that can number anywhere from 10 to more than 100 individuals. They can share a home range that they protect from intruders and will sometimes forage for food in groups.

They enjoy spending time together.

Chimps touch each other a great deal and may kiss when they meet. They also hold hands and groom each other. An adult chimp often has a special companion with which it spends a lot of time. Female chimps give their young a great deal of attention and help each other with babysitting chores. Older chimps in the group are usually quite patient with energetic youngsters—not unlike grandparents.

Chimps are not picky eaters.

After descending from their night nests in the trees, they hungrily feed on fruits, their principal diet, and on leaves, buds, and blossoms. After a while, their feeding becomes more selective, and they will choose only the ripest fruit. They usually pick fruit with their hands, but they eat berries and seeds directly off the stem with their lips. Their diet consists of up to 80 different plant foods, and they will spend anywhere from six to eight hours per day looking for food. Sometimes, chimps supplement their diets with meat, such as young antelopes or goats. Their most frequent victims, however, are other primates, such as young baboons, colobus monkeys, and blue monkeys.

They can use tools.

Chimps have opposable thumbs and a firm grip. This allows them to pick up objects and use “tools” for certain purposes.

  • Chimpanzee David Thomson
  • Chimpanzee AWF
  • Chimpanzee Craig R. Sholley
  • Chimpanzee Craig R. Sholley
  • Bili-Uele Chimp Survey AWF
  • Bili-Uele Chimp Survey Cleve Hicks

Chimps are losing their homes.

The number of chimps in the wild is steadily decreasing. One of the main causes is the alarming rate at which forests are cut down for farming, settlements, and other activities.

The chimpanzee is hunted for bushmeat.

While bushmeat has always been a popular source of dietary protein for local communities, the scale of hunting has increased dramatically, and the activity has become heavily commercialized with much of the meat now going to urban residents.


Our solutions to protecting the endangered chimpanzee:

  • Work with communities.

    African Wildlife Foundation works with local communities to provide education on, and at times, incentivize conservation. For example, we built Lupani School, a conservation school in the Sekute community. AWF agreed to work with the community on the grounds that they would practice sustainable agriculture and conserve their local wildlife. Also, conservation is built into the school’s curriculum to teach younger generations about protecting their wildlife. 

  • Provide agricultural training.

    AWF engages communities living near chimps to create sustainable practices for agricultural and settlement growth by providing training on best practices and incentivizing conservation agriculture when appropriate.


Will you show chimpanzees your support?

With your help, AWF can work on projects like building conservation schools that secure space for wildlife while providing top-rate education for children and instituting sustainable agricultural practices. Donate for a cause that will help wildlife conservation and ensure the survival of the chimpanzee. 

  • Mau Forest Peter Chira
    Mau Reforestation
    Planting trees in a critical forested ecosystem

    Kenya’s ecological health is in danger.

    The ecological health of the Mau Forest Complex in Kenya’s Rift Valley region is in imminent danger. Deforestation and...

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  • Bili-Uele Chimp Survey Cleve Hicks
    Bili-Uele Chimp Survey
    Protecting chimps in the Democratic Republic of Congo

    Humans remain a threat to chimps.

    The 60,000-square-kilometer Bili-Uélé Domaine de Chasse is the largest protected area in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and...

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  • Close up of chimp in a tree.
    African Apes Initiative
    Saving Africa’s great apes from the brink of extinction.

    All of Africa’s great ape species are either endangered or critically endangered.

    Africa is home to four of the world’s five great apes: the...

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  • Campo Ma’an Anti-Poaching Patrols
    Securing a landscape for future tourism opportunities

    Untapped tourism potential

    With its accessibility to Cameroon’s capital city, as well as its proximity to white-sand beaches, Campo Ma’an National Park...

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