Facts about Chimpanzees in Rwanda
Facts about Chimpanzees in Rwanda: Chimpanzees are primates that share 98 percent of humans DNA which makes them close relatives to human beings. There are over 1000 chimpanzees that are found in Rwanda and they can be viewed in Nyungwe national park. A large number of chimpanzees in Rwanda have been habituated which means that they are used to human presence therefore available for trekking on daily basis.
Chimpanzee physical characteristics
Chimpanzees have a body covered with long black hair, have long arms and hands which enable them to pick up objects, short legs with no tail. The male chimpanzees weigh around 150 pounds while the females weigh around 110 to 115 pounds. Chimpanzees live in groups of 30 to 80 individuals and the groups are made up of males, females, young ones and they have a life span of 50 years in the wild and up to 60 years in captivity. Chimpanzees become sexually mature at the age of 8 to 12 years of age, female chimpanzees experience an estrus cycle of about 34 to 35 days and during this period they experience body changes for example the skin on the bottom become pink, bare and swollen. They also have a gestation period of about 8 months, give birth every 4 to 5 years and give birth to one baby which will stay with its mother until about 3 years of age. They are quick and fast climbers hence they build their nests high in the trees and these nests are constructed by bending tree branches, lining tree edges with twigs and forming a platform.
Chimpanzees are omnivorous creatures in that they feed on plants, fruits, leaves, buds, blossoms, flowers, seeds, insects, hunting small mammals like monkeys, bushbucks among others. While feeding, chimpanzees eat seeds, berries from the stem with their lips and pick fruits and flowers with their hands. their diet consists of up to 80 different plants and use tools like rocks to crack nuts, sticks to gather termites from anthills, defend themselves from enemies and also make sponges from leaves which they soak up in water while drinking water from tree holes.
How chimpanzees communicate
They are among the noisiest primates and use facial expressions, body language to communicate with each other using sounds like hooting, screaming, grunting, drumming among others.
Threats to chimpanzees in Rwanda.
Chimpanzees in Rwanda are also considered endangered due to several facts which lead to their decline including;
- Diseases, chimpanzees that live at the edges of the protected areas can be exposed to human diseases which sometimes lead to death if not treated.
- Accidental snaring in wire snares which are set out for antelopes and end up killing or injuring the chimpanzees
- Hunting, chimpanzees are hunted for trade, killed for meat by local communities while others are killed due to crop raiding.
- Habitat loss of the chimpanzees due to deforestation of some forests in Rwanda which act as habitat for the endangered chimpanzees and encroachment of land due to population increase.
Chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda.
Chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda is conducted in Nyungwe forest national park. The park is situated in the northwestern park of Rwanda in Ruzizi. It is home to 25% of all primate species in Africa with majority of its chimpanzees being habituated. Tracking chimpanzees in the make one of the highlights of a visit to the national park with about 500 individuals living within Nyungwe forest national park.
A chimpanzee tracking permit in Rwanda costs USD 60 dollars per person in Nyungwe national park and the activities lasts between 2- 6 hours. Tracking begins at exactly 8 am from three major points which are; Uwinka, Kitabi and Gisakura. Visitors interesting in chimpanzee trekking activities in the park should endeavor to be at the park by 5am for registration and a briefing from the head ranger in the park.
What to pack for your chimpanzee trekking safari in Rwanda.
Visitors planning to do chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda should pack the following items; a pair of long trousers and long sleeved shirts, hiking boots, sunscreen and insect repellent cream, a hat or cap, your chimp tracking permit and ID card/Passport, water bottle, a raincoat or jacket, binoculars and a camera plus some extra batteries.