Thanks to generous donations, staff members at the Jane Goodall Institute’s Tchimpounga sanctuary are set to begin the process of releasing eight rehabilitated mandrills back into the wild. In the weeks to come, these eight mandrills will be able to call the Conkouati–Douli National Forest in the Republic of Congo home.
In the wild, mandrills live in massive groups called hordes, which can consist of more than 700 leaf-chomping, bug-munching, fruit-loving individuals. Mandrills are quick in the trees, fast on their feet, and call some of the roughest forest on the planet home. This makes it tough to follow them on the ground, which is one of the reasons why so little is known about these large, brightly colored, saber-toothed primates. It’s also the reason, JGI field staff will be tracking them with high-tech global positioning system (GPS) radio collars.
Darwin called mandrills (Mandrillus sphinx) the most colorful primate. Whether or not they are the most colorful, they certainly have large teeth!
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), mandrills are an endangered species. Today, they are only found in four countries in equatorial Africa. Given their shrinking habitat and continued pressure from the illegal commercial bushmeat trade, now is the time to help us take action to protect these beautiful and illusive primates.
In addition, protecting mandrill habitat protects the habitat of chimpanzees, elephants, gorillas, leopards, and many other endangered species.
Fernando Turmo, the Jane Goodall Institute-Congo’s image and communications coordinator, works with chimpanzees every day. When talking about the upcoming mandrill release, he smiles while shaking his head with a bit of awe and says, “Mandrills are a very special photographic subject to me. They have the mouth of a lion and their faces have such shocking color that they look like they belong on another planet. Yet their hands are so similar to human hands. They are extraordinary.”
I’m Miles Woodruff and I will be spending the next 18 months tracking these amazing animals through one of the densest, roughest forests on the planet. I’ll put up with the elephants, crocodiles and nonstop rain to make sure the mandrills have the safest possible transition back into the wild.
Stay tuned! I’ll be posting regular updates about the release!
One thing’s for sure: The next year and a half is going to be wild!
All the best,
Mandrill Project Supervisor
the Jane Goodall Institute - Africa Programs