Common chimpanzees are among the most abundant and widespread of all apes, wild populations continue to decline. For this reason, the species is classified by the IUCN as an endangered species. There are between 170,000 to 300,000 individuals remaining in the wild. The greatest threats common chimpanzees face are poaching, disease, habitat destruction and habitat degradation.
Common chimpanzees have coarse black fur that covers all but their face, fingers, toes and the palms of their hands and underside of their feet. They are large primates that weigh between 88 and 140 pounds. Adult males are larger than females.
Common chimpanzees form social groups consisting of between 20 and 150 individuals. Smaller groups often break off from the main group to forage during the day. Some small groups consist of all males while others are all female, female and offspring or mixed groups of males, females and offspring. The social structure is dominated by males which protect group members and lead the search for food. Males stay with the groups they are born into while females often leave their natal communities when they reach sexual maturity. The individuals in a group are usually ranked in a dominance hierarchy, with males being more highly ranked than females. Males are also ranked individually, with highest ranking individuals being the most aggressive.
Common chimpanzees are highly territorial and will even kill other chimpanzees encroaching on their land.
Chimpanzees are highly intelligent primates that have been observed using and modifying tools such as rocks, sticks, grass and leaves so they can obtain food such as nuts, ants, termites and water.
The thumbs and big toes of common chimpanzees are opposable, giving them a strong and dexterous grip. Common chimpanzees are terrestrial as well as arboreal. They sleep in the trees and spend most of the day on the ground. Their mode of locomotion is quadrapedal and they walk using the soles of their feet and knuckles.
Common chimpanzees inhabit Central and West Africa. They live in a variety of habitats including savannas, dry woodlands, montane forests, grasslands, evergreen rainforests and swamplands.
Common chimpanzees are subdivided into several subspecies:
- Central chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes troglodytes)
- Eastern chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii)
- Western chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes verus)
- Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes vellerosus)