The Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in the Republic of Congo was founded in 1993 as part of an initiative to maintain the pristine forests of the Ndoki region. Although the initial surveys in the Goualougo Triangle clearly demonstrated the high conservation value of these forests and resident wildlife, the area was not included in the new park and the Goualougo Triangle was scheduled for logging. In collaboration with the Congolese government and the local logging company, several conservation organizations undertook a global campaign to seek protected status for the Goualougo Triangle.
As a project affiliated with the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park, the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project (GTAP) has many opportunities to share results and insights with scientific colleagues, timber industry managers and political leaders which have facilitated efforts to better protect the great apes at the national scale. GTAP’s “action-oriented” research is intended to assist the government in managing its forest resources, particularly those that include great apes. At the regional level, GTAP works with “cross-cutting” institutions such as Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP), Central Africa Forest Commission (COMIFAC), International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP).
MISSION and OBJECTIVES
The overall goal of GTAP is to promote the long-term conservation of both chimpanzees and gorillas through applied conservation research, enhanced protection of important ape populations and their habitats, and strengthening of local capacity to implement conservation programs.
The specific objectives of the GTAP have been designed to be cross-cutting and produce information that will increase our knowledge of these great apes while also contributing insights that will aid in developing strategies to ensure their long-term preservation.
- 1. Document the population structure of several chimpanzee communities in a large landscape.
- 2. Describe the activity patterns, social interactions, and cultural variants displayed by chimpanzees residing in a central African forest.
- 3. Investigate chimpanzee feeding ecology, ranging, and habitat utilization in a dense lowland forest within the Congo Basin.
- 4. Quantify the degree of spatial overlap and examine ecological interactions between chimpanzees and gorillas in pristine forests, and compare this with ape distribution patterns in the logging zone.
- 5. Improve the accuracy and precision of ape survey methods in dense tropical forests by using innovative approaches and advanced technological applications.
- 1. Evaluate the effects of logging activities on ape populations in northern Congo and use this information to minimize human impacts on remaining apes in central Africa.
- 2. Provide advanced training and project management experience to our Congolese staff which will increase local capacity to implement conservation activities on behalf of great apes in the Congo Basin.
- 3. Implement a progressive ape health monitoring program which involves collaborative research projects to cope with the potential emergence of Ebola virus in the Sangha Trinational Region.
- 4. Coordinate efforts and standardize methods with researchers and conservationists in this region, with special emphasis on developing relationships within the Sangha River Trinational Conservation Area.
- 5. To maintain continuous surveillance against poaching and other illegal activities in the southwest area of the NNNP and assist in the development of technologically enhanced anti-poaching efforts.