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The noises you hear above are 'pant-hoots' - loud calls used by chimpanzees to communicate through miles of dense forest. Dominance displays, locating one another, social bonding, and announcing the discovery of food are just some of the many uses that pant-hoots are thought to have. Being our closest living relatives, chimpanzees are one of the most intelligent species on the planet and, like us, depend heavily on vocal communication and language to survive and reproduce. Both males and females are known to use pant-hoots, the higher ranking chimps vocalizing more often than lesser ranking ones.
In most mammal species, it is commonly the females that band together in groups while males lead more solitary lives. Chimpanzees, however, are different: males will often hang out together and bond, using pant-hoots and grooming as a means to do so. By forming bonds with other bachelors, males will depend on one another for social company and protection if they are to find themselves out of luck with the females.
Sometimes you just need to kick back and eat some ants with the boys!
They say we have a different voice whether we're talking to our best friend, our mom, or our new boss at work. It kinda works the same way when you're a chimp down in the jungles of central Africa. Researchers have found that different members in a troop will have a slightly different sounding calls and will tweak them according to who they're talking to. Isn't that a hoot?
Like so many species in central Africa, chimpanzees are struggling to cope with increasing pressure from human activities in their habitat. Poaching, loss of critical habitats, and spread of infectious diseases have caused a continual decline in their numbers, cutting off sub-populations from one another and bringing the threat of extinction ever closer. With females only give birth once or twice in their lifetimes, chimpanzee generations are both precious and fragile to change.
Sharing more than 99% of the same DNA as us, chimpanzees are vulnerable to the same diseases that we are and have been victims to mass die-offs during pandemics like the SARS outbreak of 2002 and ebola outbreak of 2014. Whilst data is lacking for the current effect of the coronavirus outbreak on chimpanzees, a similar decline is likely. The growing threat of pandemics that we are all-too-familiar with in recent years is a direct result of the increasing demand in wildlife trade. The sale of bushmeat and the live animal markets across Africa and Asia pose dangerous hubs of transmission for viral diseases. By not only causing direct harm to the wild animals hunted for them but also triggering outbreaks endangering people wildlife across the region, the wildlife trade remains a significant threat to wildlife across the globe.
Perhaps the greatest challenge facing chimpanzee conservation is that more than 80% of their global population live in unprotected habitats. With resources thin for both wildlife and humans in central Africa, it is crucial that forests are managed sustainably to provide for both human and animal communities that depend on them. This can be done by legislation to preserve 'corridors' for chimpanzee populations within large-spanning unprotected regions of forest. Corridors are the term for passages of connectivity between habitats - as long as chimpanzee troops can depend on such passages to disperse and intermix throughout central Africa, there will be hope for their long-term survival.
Conservation efforts have included promoting and developing ecotourism in Africa which helps communities recognize the value chimpanzees add to their own livelihoods.
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