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Department of Primatology

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Deutscher Platz 6
04103 Leipzig

phone: +49 (0)341 3550 - 200
fax: +49 (0)341 3550 - 299

Curriculum Vitae


Date of Birth: 11-08-51 in St Gallen, Switzerland
Nationality: French and Swiss
Marital status: Married, two children (1983, 1988)
Languages: French, English, German


Secondary school1965-68: Lycée François Villon, Paris
1968-70: Collège Calvin, Genève 
degree: Maturité scientifique.
University of Geneva, Switzerland1970-75: Faculty of Biology, Diplôme de biologiste,
1975: supervisor: Prof. Hans Huggel
University of Zürich, Switzerland1979-1984: Department of Ethology and Wildlife Research
Ph.D. degree, 1984: Title: "Nut-cracking behaviour of wild chimpanzees", supervisor: Prof. Hans Kummer.
University of Basel, SwitzerlandHabilitation degree (Privat Dozent): 1994. supervisor: Prof. Stephen Stearns.

Professional experience

19733 months of census work on the Mountain Gorilla in the Virunga National Park, Rwanda. Supervised by Dr. Dian Fossey. This work was the basis of my diplom master thesis.
1975 and 1977Teaching biology at a secondary school, Collège Moderne, in Geneva.
19768 months in the Taï National Park, Ivory Coast, for a preliminary study of the nut-cracking behaviour of wild chimpanzees and an evaluation of the feasibility of a long-term study.
19784 months assistant at the Department of Ethology and Wildlife Research (Prof. Hans Kummer) at the University of Zürich.
1979-ongoing Long-term study of the wild chimpanzees in the Taï National Park in the Ivory Coast. Principal themes under study; ecology, social organisation, tool-use, hunting, cooperation, food-sharing, inter-community relationships, cognitive capacities.
1984-1990Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Department of Ethology (Prof. Hans Kummer) at the University of Zurich.
1987-19894 months visit at the Department of Population Biology (Prof. Stephen Stearns), University of Basel.
1990 and 1992
(April to July)
Comparative field study on the chimpanzees of Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania.
January 1991-
September 1997
Assistant professor at the department of Population Biology (Prof. Stephen C. Stearns), University of Basel (Switzerland).
1995 SpringVisiting Professor, University of Rennes, France.
1996 SpringVisiting Professor, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, France.
1997- ongoingDirector, Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.
1999 (August to October)Comparative field study on the chimpanzees of the Mahale Mountains National Park, Tanzania.
1999- ongoingHonorary Professor, Dept. of Zoology, University of Leipzig, Germany.
2000- ongoingFounder and President of the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation.

Teaching experience

Directing field work of students:Diplom thesis: 16 students of different European universities. Ph. D. thesis: 24 students from European and American universities. Post-doctoral work: 8 students from European universities.
Teaching at the University
of Basel:
Spring 1991: Behavioural Ecology of Primates (2 hours per week).

Winter semester (1991- 1997):
Evolution, Ecology and Behaviour (4 hours per week).
Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology (2 hours per week).
Seminar on Population Biology (1 hour per week).

Summer semester (1992-1997):
Field course in Population Biology (2 weeks).
Field course in Evolutionary Biology (1 week)
Teaching at the University
of Leipzig:
Summer semester (1999-ongoing):
Behavioural Ecology (2 hours per week)

Offices and advisory work

  • Fyssen Foundation, Paris, scientific board member (1985-1989)
  • World Wide Fund for Nature International (WWF Int.): Consultant to negotiate with the Ivorian government a conservation project for the Taï National Park (1987-1988).
  • World Wide Fund for Nature International: Coordinator project in the Taï National Park, Ivory Coast (1988-1992).
  • Committee for the Care and Conservation of Chimpanzee (CCCC), executive council (1988-1992)
  • Society for the study of Animal Behaviour, Member (1993-1998)
  • IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group (1986-ongoing)
  • International Primatological Society (1986-ongoing)
  • International Primate Protection League (1986-ongoing).
  • International Journal of Primatology, Editorial Board (1990-2004).
  • Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Associates (1991-ongoing)
  • Pan Africa News, Editorial Board (1997-ongoing)
  • Steering Committee of the World Heritage Species Status Taskforce, Member (2002-ongoing)
  • IUCN/SSC/ Section of the Great Apes (SGA), Excecutive Committee Member (2003-ongoing)
  • Co-chairman of the Scientific Committee of the Great Apes Survival project (GRASP) of the UNEP/UNESCO (2003-ongoing)

Grant reviewer: NIH, National Science Foundation (USA), Swiss National Science Foudation, Leakey Foundation, National Geographic Society, Fulbright Foundation, Wenner-Gren Foundation

Ad Hoc Reviewer: Behavioural and Brain Sciences, Animal Behaviour, Nature, Behaviour, Ethology, Primates, International Journal of Primatology, American Journal of Primatology, Folia Primatologica, American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Current Anthropology, Behavioural Ecology, Proceedings of the National Academy Science, Serie B, Quaterly Review of Biology, American Naturalists, Journal of Human Evolution, Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, Journal of Evolutionary Biology.

Awards and other honours

1985Prix Cortaillod for talented Swiss scientists under 35 years old, University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland.
1987Great Apes Fellowship of the Leakey Foundation, Pasadena.
1989Great Apes Fellowship of the Leakey Foundation, Pasadena.
1999Phillip Morris Research Price, München.
2013Medal "Officier de l'Ordre National" by the president of Côte d’Ivoire Alassane Ouattara 2013
2015Prof. Boesch and the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation received the St. Andrews Prize for the Environment.