Giant Chimpanzees (Bili Apes)

Adrianne, Ohio Bigfoot Research Manager

Once thought to be a legend, the Bili Apes can be found in the Democratic Republic of Congo. They are gigantic when compared to a standard sized chimpanzee. They can exceed 5 feet in height, and have a larger skull than the chimpanzee. They also leave a larger footprint than a gorilla.

Years of civil war in the Congo has made travel to this area to observe the apes difficult. Only in the last decade have the apes been studied in detail.  A researcher by the name of Cleve Hicks, with the University of Amsterdam, spent 18 months in the field observing the apes in 2004 and again in the 2006-2007 field seasons.

Locals of the area refer to the apes as “Lion Killers”. Cleve Hicks did observe one of these apes feasting on a leopard’s carcass, but he did not observe the ape killing it. They also have been observed catching fish, honey dipping, and smashing snails and fruit. Unlike the chimpanzees that usually nests in trees, the Bili apes make their nests on the ground like the gorillas.

At first they were speculated to be some sort of gorilla/chimpanzee hybrid, but have since turned out to be a giant sized chimpanzee with their own unique culture.

In September 2007 Cleve Hicks reported on the Richard Dawkins Foundation’s web site that the Bili Apes are in trouble . They are the largest population of chimps in Africa with at least 35, 000. In 2010 it was reported as “witnessing the beginning of a massive ape decline”. They are in trouble because large scale gold mining has flooded the area. Cleves said that the miners themselves consume large amounts of bushmeat (chimpanzee) and their activities provide cover for poachers hunting leopards and elephants. Once this untouched forest is invaded by hundreds of poachers, it may be impossible to ever undo the damage. He also said “it would be a terrible shame if the Bili apes were to disappear from the planet just as we were getting to know them!”