Chimpanzees range across tropical Africa, inhabiting dense rainforest and dry savannah woodland from West Africa to Uganda and Tanzania in the east.
The common chimpanzee, along with the pygmy chimpanzee or bonobo, is the closest living relative of humans. Much like us, these highly intelligent and resourceful primates have incredibly complex and sophisticated social structures that have fascinated scientists for decades. Many studies have shown they are altruistic, plan for the future and have a grasp of basic numeracy.
They live in hierarchical social groups of up to 150 individuals, held together by the strong bonds between male chimpanzees. Smaller, lower-ranking males will form coalitions, working together to depose a stronger male. Disputes within groups are normally non-violent, but rival groups are known to engage in organised warfare and other violent behaviour formerly ascribed to humans alone.
All four subspecies of common chimpanzee have been observed using tools and they will often modify items they find, in order to make foraging easier.
Chimpanzees have a complex ‘cognitive map’ of their territory. They use this to repeatedly locate their favourite food sources. Chimps are omnivorous and opportunistic feeders. The majority of their diet is plant-based, but they supplement this with insects, eggs, honey and meat.