Tuesday, August 28, 2012
I’m proud to say that on July 1 the United Nations World Heritage Committee named the Sangha Tri-National Protected Area a World Heritage Site. This status, conferred by the United Nations Education, Science, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), represents the culmination of a body of work spanning decades. It also reflects the importance of the landscape that Lincoln Park Zoo and its partners are doing so much to study and save.
The area in question is a 10,000-square-mile contiguous forest stretching across parts of the Republic of Congo, Cameroon and the Central African Republic. It’s home to significant populations of western gorillas and central chimpanzees, which I’ve spent years studying with my wife and partner, Crickette Sanz. The region is also home to important indigenous hunter-gather populations whose very existence and cultures rely on these forests. We’re glad to see UNESCO agrees it’s of global importance and deserving of protection.
Elevating the Sangha Tri-National Protected Area to World Heritage status raises the profile of Africa on the UNESCO World Heritage List. This is a welcome addition, as Africa has historically been underrepresented on the World Heritage List, encompassing only 9 percent of sites.
Designation for the Sangha Tri-National Protected Area is also unique because it’s the first site spanning three nations. The continuous forest cover is a key feature; the area is one of the most ecologically functional and least human-modified forests worldwide.
The Goualougo Triangle, where we study great ape tool use and the impact of logging, is at the southernmost tip of the Sangha Tri-National Protected Area. Earlier this year the Triangle celebrated its own milestone in protection. After years of lobbying, it was officially included within Nouabale-Ndoki National Park by Presidential decree—necessary protection for one of most pristine landscapes on earth.
Both this earlier recognition and the World Heritage Site designation highlight the inherent worth in sustaining these globally important initiatives. They reflect the key involvement of government officials, researchers, local stakeholders, non-government organizations, the private sector and financial supporters. Beyond that, they reflect hope for the species that call the region home, including chimpanzees and gorillas, our closest cousins.
A research fellow in Lincoln Park Zoo's Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes, David Morgan, Ph.D., is co-director of the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project.
Friday, February 17, 2012
On January 20, President Denis Sassou-Nguesso of the Republic of Congo made a significant and lasting step toward the protection of biodiversity in his country. With the stroke of a pen, he granted protected status to the Goualougo Triangle, a key conservation area, a stronghold of great ape research in the Congo Basin and a place with a remarkable history.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
By adding the Goualougo Triangle to the national park system, the Republic of Congo has ensured this pristine landscape will remain untouched. As a result, zoo researchers will continue to make groundbreaking discoveries about wild chimpanzees and gorillas for decades to come.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
New approaches for collecting behavioral data are rapidly changing not only the way researchers record observations but also the scope of the questions they ask. At the Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes, gone are the days of painstakingly entering data into a computer. Lincoln Park Zoo behavioral-monitoring researchers regularly collect detailed, systematic data on resident apes that can be analyzed once the information is simply uploaded from the handheld.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Elo, a subadult female chimpanzee living in the Goualougo Triangle, hammers the blunt end of a large tree branch against a tree trunk to break open a beehive and acquire honey. This chimpanzee is particularly significant to me because she is named after the director of the Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes, Elizabeth Lonsdorf, Ph.D.
Goualougo Triangle Field Diaries
Lincoln Park Zoo is helping to conserve the apes and gorillas of the living in the pristine forest of the Republic of Congo’s Goualougo Triangle. Our Goualougo Triangle field diaries feature the latest updates on studies of ape behavior, tool-use and the impact of logging on these endangered animals.
David Morgan, Ph.D.
A research fellow with Lincoln Park Zoo’s Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes, Morgan is co-director of the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project.
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