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Lessons learned while protecting wild chimpanzees in West Africa

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Boesch,  Christophe
Chimpanzees, Department of Primatology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

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Boesch_Lessons_AmJPrima_2020.pdf
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Citation

Boesch, C., Gotanegre, A., Hillers, A., Kouassi, J., Boesch, H., Kizila, P., et al. (2020). Lessons learned while protecting wild chimpanzees in West Africa. American Journal of Primatology, 83: e23209. doi:10.1002/ajp.23209.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-6C42-6
Abstract
Though human activities are postulated to be the main drivers of the worldwide biodiversity crisis, humans are also suggested by some to be an important part of the solution to the crisis. How can such a paradox be best solved? This paradox requires an adaptive, context‐specific, dynamic solution, at a fine‐grained scale that varies by location. The Wild Chimpanzee Foundation (WCF) works on the ground in three West African countries: In Côte d'Ivoire, where bushmeat consumption is a re- current and generalized threat to wildlife, WCF used live theater performances in the villages to address this issue. Post‐activity evaluations revealed that the more often individuals have been part of such awareness activities, the less they will consume bushmeat. In nearby Liberia, where illegal miners have invaded many protected areas and intact forests, the WCF supports Community Watch Teams (CWT) to patrol the Sapo National Park with Forestry Development Authority staff. Within 11 months of its creation, the CWT patrols around and in the Sapo National Park resulted in thousands of illegal miners progressively leaving the national park. In Guinea, where coexistence between humans and primates has prevailed based on religious traditions, the WCF developed a strategic approach, as the Moyen‐Bafing National Park contains about 5000 chimpanzees as well as some 255 villages. Therefore, we adopted an “integrated landscape approach” whereby the community activities are planned in combination with initiatives increasing forest regeneration and connectivity in high conservation value areas. Communities in northern Guinea confronted with dramatic fluctuations due to climatic changes welcomed such ac- tivities that help them become more resilient and adaptable to those alterations. In conclusion, evidence‐based information at the local level helps to resolve the con- servation paradox by adapting with the local communities' context‐specific dynamic approaches to enhance the conservation of great apes.