Fieldwork

 

The Dzanga-Sangha Protected Areas

The Dzanga-Sangha Protected Areas (DSPA) in the Central African Republic (CAR) includes strictly protected Dzanga-Ndoki National Park with restricted access of people and Dzanga Sangha Dense Forest Special Reserve in which human activities are controlled. Our research activities are directed by the Dzanga-Sangha Project under the collaborative management of the CAR Government and World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Our two main study sites Mongambe and Bai Hokou are located in the Dzanga Sector of the National Park and they are also permanent Primate Habituation Programme (PHP) research sites.

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Western lowland gorillas occur in DSPA in high densities while densities of central chimpanzees in this area are low. We focus our research interests on parasite fauna and microbiota of 1) gorilla groups in different stage of habituation/different level of human contact; 2) unhabituated chimpanzees; 3) habituated group of agile mangabeys; 4) other wildlife species including elephants and red river hogs; and 5) humans who are in contact with gorillas or who enter the Park (PHP trackers, assistants, ecoguards, researchers).

 

Ugalla

Ugalla is located east of Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania, Africa. Research activities within the Issa Valley study area are directed by Ugalla Primate Project (UPP) lead by A. Piel and F. Stewart. Ugalla chimpanzees live at one of the lowest population densities across their distribution. The Issa chimpanzees are unhabituated and comprise a single community of >67 individuals. Our research is focused on 1) intestinal parasite fauna of Ugalla chimpanzees and sympatric olive baboons and red-tailed monkeys; 2) SIVcpz-parsite co-infections in Ugalla chimpanzees; 3) ecology of malaria infection in Ugalla chimpanzees; 4) parasite vectors in Ugalla; and 5) other viral infections in Ugalla primates.

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Cantanhez National Park

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Cantanhez National Park is located in Tombali Region, in southern Guinea-Bissau, Africa. The park consists of a patchy environment of small rivers; mangroves, arborous and grassland savannahs; agriculture fields, human settlements and sub-humid forests characterize the landscape. A trend of forest loss with a conversion from closed humid forests to savanna-woodlands caused by ‘slash and burn’ agriculture has been detected recently.

Consequently, the encounters of humans and domestic animals with wildlife occur with increased frequency. Our research is focused on 1) chimpanzees genetics and conservation; 2) intestinal parasite fauna of primates; 3) SIV and parasitic infections in primates; and 4) ecology of malaria infection in chimpanzees.

Western red colobus

 

Dja Faunal Reserve (DJA)

Dja

Dja (FR) a UNESCO World Heritage site is situated in southeast Cameroon. The Dja FR covers approximately 5260 km² with an elevation range of 400-800 m above sea level. Dja FR is directed by the Cameroonian government and ECOFAC (Ecosystemes Forestiers en Afrique Central). The reserve is one of the largest protected areas of the African rainforests: 90% of its area remains undisturbed. The area has been declared as an exceptional priority area for the conservation of great apes in western equatorial Africa.

Great apes research is carried out around a research camp La Belgique (13°07’-013°11’ E; 03°23’-03°27’ N), a 40 km² study area, in the northern periphery of the Dja FR and managed by Projet Grands Singes (PGS) under the Centre for Research and Conservation (CRC), Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp, Belgium (RZSA). The site has no official protected status and the forest was partially and selectively logged more than 30 years ago. Chimpanzees and gorillas remain intentionally unhabituated to human observers because of the high hunting pressure in the surrounding areas. The area has  low human population density, however both subsistence and commercial hunting pressure is high.
Our research is focused on 1) parasite fauna of local primate populations and humans; 2) communities of strongylid nematodes in primates and humans; 3) factors important for zoonotic transmissions of strongylid nematodes between ape and human populations.
We believe that this information will be of high conservation value and allow controlling potential threats to health of both great apes/primates and humans.

 


Kalinzu Forest Reserve (KFR)

KFR is one of the largest forest blocks studied near Queen Elizabeth National Park in southwestern part of Uganda. It covers an area of 137 km², with an elevation of 1000-1500 m above sea level. The KFR was gazetted as a Central Forest Reserve and in 2003 was listed by Uganda Wildlife Authority as one of the conservation priorities. Several projects have been conducted to help protect and widen the knowledge on the KFR biodiversity. Six different species of primates including chimpanzees can be found in KFR. Based on 2001 primate census, the number of chimpanzees was estimated to be 240.

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Four groups have been identified, two of which are can be accessed by researchers and tourists. There is a high level of illegal hunting in this reserve, leading to high cases of chimpanzees’ snares. Since 1997 there are ongoing ecological studies of chimpanzees and other primates led by Dr. Chie Hashimoto from Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University, Japan. Valuable data collected from these studies triggered the initiation of snare removal program. In 2007, members of our team conducted a research on the dynamic of entodiomorphid ciliate Troglodytella and other parasite of chimpanzees.
Our research is focused on 1) parasite fauna of chimpanzees in relation to complexity in behavioral organization; 2) genetic diversity and patterns of malaria infections in chimpanzees; 3) diversity of strongylid nematodes in chimpanzees.

 


Gabon

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The zone of Petit Loango within the Parc National de Loango is situated on the south-west coast of Gabon between the boarder with Congo and the capital city of Libreville. Research activities are directed by L'Agence Nationale des Parcs Nationaux (ANPN). The study site covers approximately 20 km² and may be divided into two areas: coastal forests and interior swamp forests. It contains several habitat types: complex mosaic of closed- and open canopy forest, secondary forest, swamp areas, savannas, coastal scrub and Sacoglottis gabonensis-dominant forest.

Our research is focused on: 1) parasite fauna and microbiota of local primate populations; 2) parasite fauna in other large herbivores, mainly forest elephants and forest buffalos; 3) parasite insect vectors. Our study area is a developing ecotourism concession, which means in the next several years it will  go from an area devoid of human presence to having a low level of low impact human activities.

 
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