Area of Tchimpounga Nature Reserve Expanded by 750 Percent!

JGI staff braved waist-high waters while conducting surveys of the Tchimpounga Nature Reserve.

Wonderful news! The Congolese government recently ratified a decree to expand the Tchimpounga Nature Reserve (TNR) by 750 percent. The Jane Goodall Institute’s Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center, the largest chimpanzee sanctuary in Africa, lies within the current boundaries of the TNR.

Expansion of the TNR will increase the amount of key protected habitat for chimpanzees and other species from roughly 17,000 to 129,000 acres, and will also secure protection of three nearby islands located in the Kouilou River.

The recent expansion will:

  • Bring JGI one giant leap closer toward the transfer of a large number of chimpanzees currently residing at the Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center to a safer sanctuary home on the islands;
  • Ensure that the wild chimpanzees living within the former boundaries of the TNR have access to important habitat and resources;
  • Protect wild chimpanzees and their habitat outside the former boundaries of the TNR; and
  • Conserve other species living in the reserve, including sitatunga, duikers, buffalo, monkeys and the endangered African manatee.

Surveys Conducted Before Expansion

For more than three years, thanks to the generous support of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Great Ape Conservation Fund, JGI, in partnership with the Republic of Congo’s Ministère de l’Economie Forestière et de l’Environnement, has evaluated the potential to expand the reserve.

Before increasing the reserve size, JGI staff had to conduct thorough surveys of the surrounding area, often braving waist-high flooded forests and other seemingly impassible habitats. JGI staff surveyed the wild chimpanzee population density and also took stock of other large mammals, local vegetation and human activity in the area.

By analyzing the data collected by JGI staff, as well as information from satellite imagery and GIS technologies supported by Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc. (Esri), JGI made certain that the expanded reserve included as much suitable chimpanzee habitat as possible.

Next Steps

After a morning surveying in the Republic of Congo, JGI staff, including Dr. Rebeca Atencia, Dr. Lilian Pintea, Eric Tchindongo, Achille Nsafou and others, regroup around the campfire.

Now that the reserve’s expansion has been secured, the next step will be to create a comprehensive management plan for the area. In addition, JGI will be working to improve local ability to enforce rules protecting the reserve and will conduct further ecological monitoring.

Through the hard work and determination of JGI staff, and thanks to USFWS, the Congolese government and supporters like you, the expansion of the Tchimpounga Nature Reserve is now a reality!
 

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