Thursday, January 23, 2003

CHIMPANZEES OF GOUALOUGO

The last of their kind
WCU grad studies, champions protection for chimps of the Goualougo Triangle
By Don Hendershot

Dave Morgan knew from childhood that he wanted to work with chimps and apes... He is principal researcher for the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Goualougo Chimpanzee Study....

Morgan’s preliminary chimp surveys in the Goualougo Triangle helped convince the German timber company Congolese Industrielle des Bois to return its legal rights to harvest timber in the area to the government of Congo. Most of the triangle was added to the recently (1993) created Nouabale-Ndoki National Park....

The remoteness of the area and the lack of human presence is one aspect that makes the Triangle study so unique. Most chimpanzees across Africa are heavily hunted and react out of fear when they encounter humans. Goualougo chimps react out of curiosity and interest....

Morgan said it is sometimes questionable who is studying whom.

“We had found tracks and knew there was a group of chimps nearby, but we couldn’t find them. Finally we sat down to take a break, and suddenly there was a male chimp in the trail looking at us. There were no vocalizations. The chimp approached closer, grabbed a stick and threw it up into the air and watched for our reaction. We just sat still. The chimp backed away, climbed up a vine and sat watching us, making no vocalizations the entire time.”...