Human Interaction

    Africans have lived with Chimpanzees for thousands of years. They have even been kept as disciplined pets in African villages for hundreds of years, notably in the Congo. The first recorded European contact was in Angola sometime around the seventeenth century.

    During the twentieth century, much more research was put into the behavior of Chimpanzees. In the July of 1960, Jane Goodall went to Tanzania’s Gombe forest to live with the chimpanzees. She discovered that chimpanzees created and used tools, just like humans. This new knowledge was astonishing, as prior to this, it was thought that only humans could do that. Psychologists, Wolfgang Kohler and Robert Yerkes created lab studies on the intellectual capacity of chimpanzees, mainly in problem solving. Kohler later went on to write a book, Mentality of Apes. In it he said, “Chimpanzees manifest intelligent behaviour of the general kind familiar in human beings ... a type of behaviour which counts as specifically human”.

    Chimps have also been known to attack human beings on certain occasions. There have been many attacks reported in Uganda, against children, sometimes even fatal. Some of the attacks are though to be caused due to the intoxication of chimpanzees (they obtained the alcohol from rural brewing operations) and then they mistake the children as the Western Red Colobus, one of their favourite meals. The real danger is that chimpanzees see us as potential rivals and the fact that the average has five times the upper body strength of a male human. The result is a chimp that can easily overpower and potentially kill a grown man, such as the near death experience of former NASCAR driver, Saint James Davis.