While human threats continue to push Africa's chimpanzees into decline throughout Africa, primatologists have made a rare and heartening discovery. Deep within the forests of Congo, a massive "mega-culture" of unusually large chimps has been uncovered, thousands of members strong, which has so far been free to thrive undisturbed.
According to primatologist Cleve Hicks, who's been studying this chimpanzee outpost hundreds of miles into the Bili-Uele forest, the previously unknown colony is likely the largest still in existence in Africa.
"This is one of the few places left on Earth with a huge continuous population of chimps," Hicks tells The Guardian. "We estimate many thousands of individuals, perhaps tens of thousands."
Originally discovered in 2007, researchers from Lukuru Wildlife Research Foundation have been studying the isolated group of chimpanzees with motion-sensing cameras -- gaining insight into their behavior and unique diet, which is said to include leopards, giant snails, and insects. The cameras also captured an assortment of other animals in the pristine forest, but perhaps the most important detail from the footage was what wasn't seen.
"We saw incredible amounts of wildlife on our camera traps, but we did not catch a single film of a human," Hicks says. "It remains one of the last untouched wildernesses in Africa."