Zoo scientists recording a wild gorilla

Studying Ape Behavior

A wild chimpanzee peering through the foilage

Purpose

Over the last 20 years, researchers have discovered new chimpanzee tool-use repertoires, teaching behaviors, and cross-species interactions that have changed human perception of great ape behavior.

About

The long-term goal of research at the the Goualougo Triangle site is to improve the conservation status of African apes and the forests they inhabit by addressing multiple threats to their survival. The Goualougo Triangle is the only place in all Africa where coexisting chimpanzees and gorillas are habituated to being followed by humans. Over the last 20 years, researchers have discovered new chimpanzee tool-use repertoires, teaching behaviors, and cross-species interactions that have changed human perception of great ape behavior. These findings have also drawn international attention to the site in the form of nature documentaries and donors that support the work.

Observations of individually recognized chimpanzees and gorillas over time is allowing researchers to better understand their respective societies, social structures, interactions, resource, and habitat needs. Using these data sets, researchers can monitor population trends and mitigate detrimental factors. At the same time, these undertakings help provide employment to local people and inspire the next generation of Congolese conservationists to protect these endangered species and their forest homes.

Staff

Dave Morgan, Ph.D.
Research Fellow, Co-Director of the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project
Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes
Crickette Sanz, Ph.D.
Adjunct Scientist
Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes

Collaborators

Research assistant Fabrice Ebombi started his research career with GTAP in 2011 by following chimpanzees. Shortly after his debut with the project, Ebombi took on new research that focused on gorilla behavior. This required learning how to habituate gorillas to human presence. Ebombi has now successfully habituated two groups of gorillas, and sand he has shared his knowledge and experience with research assistants at the Mondika study site, as well.