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The Goualougo Triangle Chimpanzee Project

Conducted by Crickette Sanz and David Morgan

The Goualougo Triangle Chimpanzee Project (GTCP) was initiated in an area known as the Goualougo Triangle, which is located in the Sangha region of the northern Republic of Congo The main goals of the GTCP are to enhance our knowledge of the central subspecies of chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes troglodytes) and improve the conservation status of this ape throughout central Africa. Although the chimpanzee is a flagship conservation species that has been studied for several decades in eastern and western Africa, very little is known about the central subspecies residing in the Congo Basin. Our goals are achieved by studying the behavior, ecology, and culture of wild chimpanzees on a landscape scale. Specifically, we are interested in describing acitivity patterns, social interactions and cultural variants displayed by several neighboring communities. Since the project’s inception in 1999, the GTCP has maintained a continuous scientific and conservation presence in the 385 km2 study.

As a component of our ongoing research and monitoring program, we are examining the effects of mechanized logging and associated activities on chimpanzees and gorillas. The study area has been subdivided into zones with regard to the Ndoki-Nouabalé boundary, past and future scheduled timber extraction in adjacent regions, and geographical features such as waterways. Approaches involving density estimates, behavioral monitoring, analysis of social organization, and physiological monitoring (endocrine profiles, ape health monitoring) will be used to depict the specific impact of forestry activities on wild ape populations. This unique scenario has the potential to provide new insights to anthropogenic influences on chimpanzee behavior and ecology, and also indicates the rapidly changing context of primatological research and its intersection with conservation efforts in habitat countries.