Virunga’s Eastern Chimpanzees: Nesting and Distribution

The act of nest building is an important aspect of chimpanzee behavior and culture. Nests are made of leaves and branches and help regulate body temperature, keeping chimps warm during cool nights and cool during hot days. Not only is it important for their daily survival and well being, nest-building is often seen as a social activity, promoting cooperation and reinforcing social bonds within chimpanzee groups. Females are known to build special nests for giving birth and caring for their young.

(photo taken by a Ranger on Patrol in Virunga National Park)

Virunga is home to several populations of the eastern common chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii), one of three Great Apes found in the park. Alongside the elephant, it is one of the few large mammals living in all three sectors of the park. In the south they are present along the flanks of the active Nyiragongo volcano and in the dense forests around Tongo and Rumangabo. In the central sector, they occur alongside iconic animals such as lions and hippos, as they inhabit the gallery forest around the Ishasha River. The northern sector hosts the largest populations of eastern chimpanzees as they are widespread throughout the Semliki River Valley and in the foothills of the Rwenzori mountains.

(photo taken by Nicholas Philipson in Virunga National Park)

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