Uganda is home to twenty two different communities of wild chimpanzees totaling approximately 5000 individuals! Living in forest blocks along the western border of Uganda, over 75% of the country’s chimpanzee population can be found in the Forest Reserves of Budongo, Bugoma, Kasyoba-Kitomi, Kalinzu , Maramagambo and in Kibale National Park. These six forests collectively house an estimated 3000 chimpanzees with the remainder found in isolated forest pockets in between.
The robust or common chimpanzee is a large ape belonging to the order of primates, and the family hominidae, which also includes the gorilla, orangutan, and bonobo. There are two species of chimpanzees; Pan troglodytes and Pan paniscus and four subspecies of the robust or common chimpanzee; Pan troglodytes verus; Pan troglodytes vellerosus; Pan troglodytes troglodytes and Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii. Currently, there are no recognized subspecies for the gracile chimpanzee, better known as the Bonobo or Pygmy chimpanzee, Pan paniscus.
Chimpanzee males are smaller than male orangutans and gorillas with females sharing a similar size to a female orangutan. The average male is 850mm with weight ranging between 40-60kgs for males and 33-46kg for females.
Chimpanzees are generally black, though individuals with brown hair have been observed, and often grey as they mature. Skin coloration varies with age. Infants are often born with pale skin which gradually darkens as they become adults, ultimately becoming black. However, some chimpanzees have been observed to have pale skin and freckles even as adults
Historically, chimpanzees ranged throughout Equatorial Africa in at least twenty five countries. Today, chimpanzees are known to exist in twenty two countries with a range covering approximately 2,342,000 square kilometers, but distribution and population numbers are still widely unknown. While this data does exist for some countries, most areas have not conducted population surveys or have only carried out isolated surveys that are of particular interest to conservation organizations. While an effort has been made in the past five years to implement census surveys in more countries, there is still very limited data.
There are vast differences between the geographic locations and ranges of the four sub species of chimpanzees. The West African sub species (P. t.verus) is known to inhabit ten countries in West Africa, but current populations are fragmented and declining in numbers. Historically, this sub species was believed to have lived in twelve countries with a geographical range of 631,000 square kilometers and an estimated population of between 20,000 and 55,000.
The recently identified subspecies P.t.vellerosus includes a population of chimpanzees straddling the northern border of Cameroon and the southern border of Nigeria, between the Niger and Sanaga Rivers. These chimpanzees have a relatively small range of 142,000 square kilometers, with estimated numbers of between 5,000 and 8,000 individuals.
The range of the central African chimpanzee (P .t. troglodytes)extends across seven countries from Cameroon to the Republic of Congo. The largest populations of this subspecies are found in Cameroon and Gabon, while substantial numbers also exist in the Republic of Congo and smaller populations in Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic, northern Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo. Their geographic range is approximately 695,000 square kilometers with an estimated population of between 70-116,000 individuals.
The eastern chimpanzee (P.t.schweinfurthi) is found in some of the most remote and undisturbed habitat remaining in Africa.
Improving our understanding of chimpanzees, their threats and their conservation through both in-house and external world-class basic and applied research that can lead to effectiveness and efficiency gains toward the accomplishment of our mission.