Image © The Jane Goodall Institute Spain / Senegal

Protecting the Critically Endangered Western chimpanzee in Senegal

We are passionate about supporting the protection of the Western chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes verus), listed as a Critically Endangered subspecies on the IUCN Red List (Humle et al. 2016). Nearly thirty years ago, Dr Jane Goodall redefined conservation to include the needs of local people and the environment – an approach we call ‘Tacare’. Our sister organisation ‘Instituto Jane Goodall’ (the Jane Goodall Institute Spain) operates with a local field team in the Kédougou region of southeastern Senegal and across the border, in northern Guinea using the Tacare approach developed by Dr Jane Goodall. They develop partnerships with local communities helping individuals as well as chimpanzees, including conservation and research programmes, agroforestry, food security, environmental education, forest nurseries, reforestation, firebreak creation, well construction, and climate change mitigation and adaptation projects.

With its unique behavioural characteristics and complex culture, the Western chimpanzee has revolutionised the scientific landscape – it is considered the animal whose behaviour most closely replicates that of our first human ancestors. Some groups of chimpanzees in Senegal feature unique behavioural patterns developed to adapt themselves to this hot and dry habitat, such as getting into water pools, using caves to avoid the heat and spear-hunting of smaller primates. Worryingly, there are now thought to be fewer than 2,700 Western chimpanzees in Senegal (Heinicke et al, 2019) – with your support we can try to help turn this situation around.

Conservation and research

Using cutting-edge technology and experienced Senegalese field assistants, the Jane Goodall Institute Spain’s research department based at the Dindéfélo Biological Station non-invasively monitor the local chimpanzee population and their habitat in the Dindéfélo Community Nature Reserve and the surrounding areas.

Since 2009, the team have recorded indirect evidence of chimpanzee behaviour, as well as direct observations whenever possible, always respecting strict protocols. Importantly, they also obtain vital data on the presence of other mammals and record human activities, such as wood gathering or the presence of roaming cattle in order to assess potential dangers. To collect this biomonitoring data, several teams of field assistants patrol the Reserve and adjacent areas on a regular basis, using mobile phones equipped with specialist software that enable the