Department of Primatology
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Deutscher Platz 6
phone: +49 (341) 3550 - 200
fax: +49 (341) 3550 - 299
Taï Chimpanzee Project (TCP)
directed by Roman Wittig
Taï chimpanzees (P. t.verus) have been the subjects of behavioral research for over thirty years (founded in 1979 by Christophe and Hedwige Boesch). At present the project is following three habituated neighbouring communities totaling some 100 individuals. Each group is followed by a team of several Ivorian field assistants, international research assistants, PhD students and researchers on a daily basis. Local and international research staff has to comply to a strict hygienic protocol to prevent zoonotic disease transmission, which was developed in close collaboration with Fabian Leendertz (Robert Koch Institute, Project Group Zoonoses). As part of the hygienic protocol staff go through five days of quarantine in the North camp before moving to the research camps. Having a permanent vet on site and using a field laboratory we are able to monitor the health status of staff and wildlife.
Research is conducted out of three research field camps (Barrage, South camp, East camp) from where teams start in the morning to conduct their nest to nest follows of the chimpanzees. Studies of the Taï population have led to insights into the construction and use of tools, cooperative hunting behavior, and many aspects of chimpanzee social life. More recently, comparisons of behavior patterns seen at Taï with those exhibited in other chimpanzee populations all over Africa have led to the recognition of chimpanzee culture, an attribute previously restricted to humans.
Researchers of TCP in the Taï National Park work closely with the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation and the Ivorian national park authorities (OIPR - Office Ivorien des Parcs et Réserves) to protect the chimpanzees' future.
At present research conducted at TCP is using several different methodological approaches, principally behavioural observations, bio-banking of feces and urine, hormonal analysis from non-invasive sampling of urine and faeces, genetic analysis from non-invasive sampling of faeces and hair, cognition field experiments, video- and vocalisation-recording, remote video and audiorecording and monitoring.
Since 2012, we are also observing a group of mangabeys, which has an overlapping territory with the North group's home range. Comparing behaviour, physiology and cognition of mangabeys and chimpanzees under the same ecological condition will allow us to understand the differences between monkeys and apes.
Research at Taï currently focuses on:
- Communication and evolution of language
- Cultural differences between neighboring communities
- Demographic changes (long-term)
- Intercommunity interactions
- Parasite and disease effects
- Physical and social cognition
- Social bonds and cooperation
- Social interactions and stress
- Survey techniques and bio-monitoring
Research at TCP is supervised by a scientific committee consisting of researchers from the MPI Evolutionary Anthropology and the Robert Koch Institute. Established in 2012 the committee consists of: Chrsitophe Boesch, Catherine Crockford, Tobias Deschner, Fabian Leendertz and Roman Wittig. Research at Taï is greatly supported by the invaluable help of our field staff coming from villages close to the research area:
- Honora Kpazahi (Head Assistant),
- Louis Bernard Bally (North Group),
- Appollinaire Gnahe Djirian (East Group),
- Goulei Florent (South Group),
- Arnoud Poly (South Group),
- Benjamin Dadie (South Group),
- Frederic Yehanon Oulai (East Group),
- Josephine Raissa Gnonkonte (North Group),
- Roger Kami Nabo (Botany)
Bio-monitoring and anti-poaching team:
- Denis Lia,
- Alphonse Tagnon,
- Martin Dere,
- Lambert Yao,
- Emile Tere Tare,
- Roland Peho
Camps and supplies:
- Alain Toubate,
- Justin BleKouya,
- Jean Claude Blaihyo,
- Hubert Goulehi,
- Louis Pahi,
- Alexis Touan
Conservation team (WCF):
- Gregoire Nohon Kohon
- Sidiki Kone
Standing collaborations with TCP (2013)
Within MPI EVA
Department of Primatology
- Dr Catherine Crockford: PI on Cognition, Communication and Sociality
- Dr Tobias Deschner: PI on Behavioural Endocrinology
- Dr Gottfried Hohmann: Joint project on Pan-Pan comparison: bonobo - chimpanzee
- Dr Hjalmar Kühl: PI on Pan-African program
- Dr Linda Vigilant: Kin relationships of Tai chimpanzees
- Erin Wessling: Ecological and hormonal variation across West-African chimpanzee populations
Department of Psychology
- Dr Richard Moore: Joint project on Knowledge attribution in chimpanzees
- Dr Michael Tomasello: Joint project on Knowledge attribution in chimpanzees
Department of Human Evolution
Outside from MPI EVA
- Dr Catherine Hobaiter, University of St. Andrews, St. Andrews, UK. Joint project on Chimpanzee communication.
- Dr Fabian Leendertz, Robert Koch Institute, Berlin, Germany. PI on Zoonoses and chimpanzee health.
- Dr Simone Pika, MPI Ornithology, Seewiesen, Germany. Joint PhD project on Ontogeny of gestures in Tai chimpanzees.
- Dr Andrew Plumptre, Wildlife Conservation Society, Kampala, Uganda. Joint project on Forest phenology across Africa.
- Dr Jill Pruetz, Iowa State University, Ames, USA. Joint PhD project on Ecological and hormonal variation across West-African chimpanzee populations.
- Dr Michael Wilson, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA. Joint project on Lethal aggression in chimpanzees.
- Dr Toni Ziegler, University of Wisconcin, Madison, USA. Joint project on Underlying mechanisms of social behaviour in chimpanzees.
- Dr Klaus Zuberbühler, University of Neuchâtel, Neuchâtel,
Switzerland. Joint project on Social complexity and cognition in chimpanzee and mangabeys.
For further information contact:
Dr. Roman M. Wittig
Director of the Taï Chimpanzee Project
phone: +49 341 3550204
email: taichimpproject@[>>> Please remove the brackets! <<<]eva.mpg.de