Goualougo Video Analysis Lab
Zoo researchers in the Republic of Congo use motion-activated field cameras to record ape behavior and tool use; scientists at the zoo help assess this treasure trove of footage in the Goualougo Video Lab.
Zoo researchers in the Republic of Congo’s Goualougo Triangle study chimpanzees and gorillas in one of the most untouched ecosystems on earth. An extensive network of 65 motion-activated field cameras lets field scientists record ape behavior and tool use at two study sites covering 60 square miles, increasing scientists’ understanding of these complex animals and the habitat they require.
Before it can spur new findings, though, the video footage from the cameras has to be watched. Researchers at Lincoln Park Zoo’s Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes are leading the review with the Goualougo Video Lab.
Scientists there are studying seven terabytes of field footage—collating, analyzing, and recording data directly from the Goualougo Triangle and Mondika sites. In doing so, they’re working with researchers in the Republic of Congo to paint a current picture of life for chimpanzees and gorillas in this pristine native landscape.
Footage from the field lets zoo scientists identify apes, observe social interactions, and record instances of tool use in the canopy, such as leaf sponging and honey pounding.
Videos from systematically located field cameras at the Mondika Gorilla study site in the Djeke Triangle are reviewed by Fisher Center scientists in an effort to obtain abundance estimates of mammal species in the pristine forests. Findings on the biodiversity of the region will be used to lobby for increased protected status of this unique forest and the wildlife that reside within.
Zoo scientists enter health data from the Goualougo site into a larger database of wild great apes. Regular records of chimpanzee and gorilla health help create a baseline understanding of individual’s well-being over time and offer the opportunity to compare Goualougo great apes with other wild field site study groups, such as chimpanzees in Tanzania’s Gombe National Park and gorillas at Dzanga-Sangha Bai Hokou in the Central African Republic.
Tool Sharing Among Chimpanzees
Videos from camera traps set up at termite mounds let Fisher Center scientists get some of the clearest recorded looks at wild chimpanzee termite fishing. One exciting new finding? Chimpanzees in the Goualougo Triangle will share tools with each other!