Research and Conservation in the Greater Gombe Ecosystem: Challenges and Opportunities.
The study of chimpanzees in Gombe National Park, Tanzania, started by Jane Goodall in 1960, provided pioneering accounts of chimpanzee behavior and ecology. With funding from multiple sources, including the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) and grants from private foundations and federal programs, the project has continued for sixty years, providing a wealth of information about our evolutionary cousins. These chimpanzees face two main challenges to their survival: infectious disease - including simian immunodeficiency virus (SIVcpz), which can cause Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in chimpanzees - and the deforestation of land outside the park. A health monitoring program has increased understanding of the pathogens affecting chimpanzees and has promoted measures to characterize and reduce disease risk. Deforestation reduces connections between Gombe and other chimpanzee populations, which can cause loss of genetic diversity. To promote habitat restoration, JGI facilitated participatory village land use planning, in which communities voluntarily allocated land to a network of Village Land Forest Reserves. Expected benefits to people include stabilizing watersheds, improving water supplies, and ensuring a supply of forest resources. Surveys and genetic analyses confirm that chimpanzees persist on village lands and remain connected to the Gombe population. Many challenges remain, but the regeneration of natural forest on previously degraded lands provides hope that conservation solutions can be found that benefit both people and wildlife. Conservation work in the Greater Gombe Ecosystem has helped promote broader efforts to plan and work for conservation elsewhere in Tanzania and across Africa.
Wilson, ML; Lonsdorf, EV; Mjungu, DC; Kamenya, S; Kimaro, EW; Collins, DA; Gillespie, TR; Travis, DA; Lipende, I; Mwacha, D; Ndimuligo, SA; Pintea, L; Raphael, J; Mtiti, ER; Hahn, BH; Pusey, AE; Goodall, J
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