We are observing wild chimpanzees in an extraordinary habitat in Gabon to explore how environmental influences have shaped their behavior. By describing their unique abilities, we aim to increase human awareness of the importance of their protection and survival, and contribute to a better understanding of our own origins.

Research is

  Protection! 

Species protection. Environmental preservation. Climate Protection.

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Forschung ist Schutz! Artenschutz. Umweltschutz. Klimaschutz.

Chimpanzee research at Loango

We have been conducting research on a chimpanzee population in the Central African rainforest of Gabon since 2005. Over the years, here's what we've been working on.

 
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About us

Our hearts beat for Ozouga. Research and conservation of the Loango chimpanzee population goes hand-in-hand with respecting nature and the needs and ideas of the local population.

 

Our passionate team of scientists, students and local employees work every day to improve our understanding of chimpanzees and their ecology. This in turns helps us understand the evolution of our own species as well.

 
Pinselohrschweine beim Grasen. Auch hier sind spannende Begegnungen mit den Schimpansen zu beobachten.

Loango 

National Park

 Loango National Park is located on the Atlantic coast of south-west Gabon, approximately 300 km from the Gabonese capital of Libreville. The park was established in 2002 and covers an area of 1,550 km².

Ein neugieriges Elefanten-Junges auf Entdeckungstour.
Blick von oben auf das Ozouga Camp mit seinen Hütten.

Ozouga

Camp

Our Ozouga camp is located at the forest edge about 500 meters from the Atlantic Ocean. The camp has a magnificent view on the savannah where forest elephants and buffalos roam.

Der Ozouga Camp Schriftzug an einer der Hütten. Auch unsere Camp-Katze Lily hat hier ein schattiges Plätzchen.
 
Einfach und funktional - die Hütten des Camps.
Fahrräder als beliebtes Fortbewegungsmittel rund ums Camp.
Christo's Reich... hier wird so manche kulinarische Höchstleistung vollbracht.
 

The Rekambo chimpanzees

Male chimpanzees
Arnold - Adolescent male chimpanzee
Arnold

Male / adolescent

Mother: Aroide

Arnold is a young low -ranking male. He spends a lot of time grooming other males. He often travels  with Chinois and is easily recognizable by his loud and distinct greeting calls.

Cesar - Juvenile male chimpanzee
Cesar

Male / juvenile

Mother: Carol

Cesar is a lively juvenile chimpanzee. He is the little brother of our alpha male Pandi. He is very confident and often risks getting into fights, even with older males, knowing that his high-ranking mother and brother will defend him.

Moana - Juvenile male chimpanzee
Moana

Male / juvenile

Mother: Mimi

Moana is a funny little chimp with a distinctive gait that looks like he’s trying to peddle a bicycle. He is very photogenic with a light face and dark black fur. He also has a very distinctive, high-pitched (and unpleasant) pant-hoot. He has a lot of play battles with Cesar and Sia, the other juvenile males.

Pandi - Adult male chimpanzee
Pandi

Male / adult

Mother: Carol

Pandi is without a doubt the coolest chimp in the group! He’s the dominant male and is not afraid to show it. He has a very distinctive vocalization – the raspberry, which involves pushing air through his pursed lips (a bit like a fart noise). He likes to be the center of attention and has a lot of social interactions with all group members.

Chenge - Adult male chimpanzee
Chenge

Male / adult

Mother: Roxy?

Chenge is a middle-ranking male. He often tries to impress other group members with his displays, when running through the forest while drumming against buttress roots or slapping on the ground. He spends a lot of time with Roxy who we suspect might be his mother.

Freddy - Adult male chimpanzee
Freddy

Male / adult

Mother: Mimi

A big teddy-bear of a chimp. Freddy is the dominant male Pandi’s best friend and a high-ranking chimp himself. Freddy is known for his distinctive sleeping pose where he sleeps facedown flat like a pancake. His mother, Mimi and little brother and sister, Moana and Madiba are also part of the Rekambo group.

Ngonde - Adult male chimpanzee
Ngonde

Male / adult

Mother: Pai

Ngonde is definitely the male of the community that is most shy around humans. He is quite low ranking and spends a lot of time following in the footsteps of Chinois.

Sia - Juvenile male chimpanzee
Sia

Male / juvenile

Mother: Suzee

Sia is the middle sibling between older brother Thea and little sister Sassandra, who he plays with all the time! He spends a lot of time with just his mother and sister. Although he is nine years old, due to a tumor under his right arm, he has had stunted physical development and resembles a much younger chimp.

Chinois - Adult male chimpanzee
Chinois

Male / adult

Mother: unknown

Chinois is the most impressive male in our group. He is characterized by his long and prominent face. He is high-ranking and a lot of the other chimpanzees do their best to stay in his good books. As the oldest male he often takes on a protector role and can usually be found at the back of group of travelling chimpanzees to ensure that nobody is left behind.

Littlegrey - Adult male chimpanzee
Littlegrey

Male / adult

Mother: unknown

Littlegrey is a distinctive looking chimp very lean and with very grey fur. His name comes from when the chimpanzees were still being habituated and all we saw was a grey blob that was constantly in motion. He is Carol’s good friend and also likes to play with the babies in the group. There are periods when he spends quite a lot of time with Roxy and Chenge who we call the ‘Magic Trio’ when all three are together.

Thea - Adult male chimpanzee
Thea

Male / adult

Mother: Suzee

Thea has a uniformly dark coat and is becoming bigger and buffer so we have been observing him starting to find his place amongst the higher ranking males. He has lots of interactions with his family members including his little brother and sister: Sia and Sassandra.

Female chimpanzees
Carol - Adult female chimpanzee
Carol

Female / adult

Carol is a high ranking female and is very popular with all the males in the group, especially Littlegrey. She has two sons, Pandi and Cesar and is a very protective mother who likes to have her eye on her offspring at all times.

Joy - Adult female chimpanzee
Joy

Female / adult

Joy is the youngest of the adult females in the group. She’s one of the most popular females among the males and is groomed a lot.

Pai - Adult female chimpanzee
Pai

Female / adult

Pai is one of our older females and spends quite a lot of time without the main group. She is mother to Ngonde and little Pastis.

Roxy - Adult female chimpanzee
Roxy

Female / adult

Roxy spends all of her time in proximity to Chenge. When she is separated from Chenge, or the rest of the group moves on, she has the tendency to start crying and doesn’t stop until another individual replies. Roxy is also a very vocal female and joins in on drumming displays with the males.

Onome - Adult female chimpanzee
Onome

Female / adult

Onome is one of the oldest Rekambo females and is almost completely blind. She spends most of her time with her adolescent son, Orion, a young male who guides her through the forest to prevent her from losing connection to the group.

Suzee - Adult female chimpanzee
Suzee

Female / adult

Suzee is a caring mother and spends all her time around her family. She loves playing with her offspring Sia and Sassandra. Her oldest son Thea is already grown up, but still spends lots of time with his family.

Ida - Adult female chimpanzee
Ida

Female / adult

Ida is quite a shy and independent female. She spends most of her time with her adolescent son, Gump and her new adopted daughter, Olive.

Mimi - Adult female chimpanzee
Mimi

Female / adult

Mimi is a successful mother of three, Freddy, Moana and little Madiba.

Queliba - Adult female chimpanzee
Queliba

Female / adult

Queliba is an orphan and has a severely crippled hand. She therefore spends a lot of time travelling bipedally. She is small for her age and very thin.

Tropical Beach

The

directors

The project is led by Dr. Tobias Deschner of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig and Prof. Dr. Simone Pika of the University of Osnabrück

 

Dr. Tobias Deschner

About me

»Every time a chimpanzee population vanishes, we irretrievably lose a unique culture«

My research focuses on the behavioral ecology of great apes. Over the course of the last twenty years, I was fortunate enough to observe wild chimpanzees at various sites across Africa including Taï in Côte d’Ivoire, Budongo and Ngogo in Uganda, Gombe and Issa in Tanzania as well as bonobos at Lui Kotale in the DRC. What particularly fascinates me is the ability of chimpanzees to adapt to highly variable habitats; a trait they share with humans. How do they achieve this? To what degree is this adaptability related to social learning? Which cultural patterns might have evolved in this context? How do these adaptations help them to survive in a constantly changing habitat and numerous feeding competitors? To answer such questions at Loango, we make use of traditional behavioral observations as well as video, endocrinological, genetic and pathogen analyses, and camera trap recordings.

Loango is the perfect place to study social behavior and ecological adaptations. The habitat is breathtakingly diverse and the chimpanzees encounter their feeding competitors such as elephants, gorillas, red river hogs and different monkey species on a daily basis.

 

Prof. Dr. Simone Pika

About me

»We protect what we love«


Since 2019, I am the head of the research group Comparative BioCognition at the Institute of Cognitive Science, University of Osnabrück. I started my career as a field researcher in the Okavango Delta in Botswana studying baboons. After that, I started to investigate the communicative behavior of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) at the Ngogo Chimpanzee Project, Kibale National Park in Uganda. ​Since this wonderful experience, I am fascinated by the communicative complexity, intelligence and behavioral diversity of chimpanzees and other primates. In addition, our research presence in the threatened habitats of chimpanzees and other species in combination with the transfer of knowledge significantly aids in protecting these unique biotopes and species. 

My research centers on the question of language evolution and cognition by applying methods from Comparative Psychology, Cognitive Science, Ethology, and recently AI to different model systems (primates, corvids). I have published on learning, shaping and referential use of signals, the impact of experience and social matrices on communicative output, species specific communication styles, the development and performance of cognitive skills, tool-use and turn-taking. In 2010, I was awarded with the Sofja-Kovalevskaja Price of the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung. In 2017, I received an ERC-Consolidator Grant of the EU to study the evolution of turn-taking in primates.

 
 
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The team

Our local staff comes from the villages surrounding the National Park. We have five guides, a driver and a cook. Furthermore, there is a project manager, and a changing number of students and volunteers in camp.

Ulrich Bora Moussouami
Christo Igoumounamendet
Darlhy Rendjego
Fredy Makaya
Gaël Mweniambiet
Harmonie Klein
Juldas Ossouvou
Lara M. Southern
Lily
Louise Ducroix
Malak Ettaj
Matt Rolland
Serge Emane
Stephane Nziengui
Tanguy Tanga
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 Research is protection!  

Species conservation. Environmental preservation. Climate protection. 

Field research on wild chimpanzees supports intact tropical forests and vice versa. Tropical forests bind CO2. Species protection thus means climate protection. Ozouga links  environmental sustainability and climate protection.

We’re all in the same boat.

 
Die Beobachtung der Schimpansen...
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Kommunikation von Schimpansen

 chimpanzee 

 communication 

 learn more 

Research

We study the social behavior and the behavioral ecology of chimpanzees. For this we continue to develop and use new scientific methods while simultaneously aiming to improve the conservation of chimpanzees in their various habitats. We aim to continue with innovative research projects that apply new tools to field research and contribute to the survival of endangered species in their natural environments.

This project aims to raise awareness for species conservation.

 

We study:

Chimpanzee
communication

Chimpanzees communicate using a multitude of facial expressions, gestures and vocalizations. The influence of the environment and social setting on the use of communicative modalities is the subject of Lara M. Southern’s Ph.D..

Inter-group interactions and territorial behavior

Chimpanzees at Loango have extraordinarily large territories and are very aggressive, sometimes even resulting in deadly interactions with neighboring communities (Martínez-Íñigo et al. in press). This might be related to the potentially high feeding competition with other species, including gorillas and elephants (Head et al 2012).

Hunting

Chimpanzees at Loango hunt and feed on a variety of animal species, including several species of monkeys and duikers (Klein et al. 2021). The strategies they employ in these hunts is the topic of Harmonie Klein’s Ph.D. thesis.

 

Tool use

Chimpanzees at Loango use sticks to gain access to underground and arboreal bee-nests. The exploitation of underground bee-nests was the topic of Vittoria Estienne’s doctoral thesis (Estienne et al. 2017a, 2017b, 2019).

Genetics

We used fecal samples to conduct the first population genetic study in our study area. We identified 7 different chimpanzee communities and estimated the population density to be 2.1 individuals per square kilometer (Arandjelovic et al. 2011). Using relatedness analyses we hope to soon understand the familial relationships within the Rekambo community.

Pathogens

In cooperation with the project group epidemiology of Highly Pathogenic Microorganisms at the RKI in Berlin and the IRET in Libreville, we investigate diseases and their pathogens of the Loango chimpanzees. In the framework of this cooperation, financed by the German Science foundation (DFG), Tangy Tanga works on his PhD.

Bio-monitoring with camera traps

Camera traps are essential to estimate population sizes and implement conservation measures for endangered species. We used camera traps to investigate aspects of feeding competition between chimpanzees, gorillas and elephants (Head et al 2012)), territorial behavior of chimpanzees (Martínez-Íñigo et al. in press) and intergroup interactions (Martínez-Íñigo et al. in press). Recordings of our camera traps were as well made available to the Pan African Programme: The Cultured Chimpanzee (PanAF) and analyzed by citizen scientists on the Chimp&See platform.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Publications

Southern, L., Deschner, T., Pika, S., (2021). Lethal coalitionary attacks of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes troglodytes) on gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) in the wild.  read more

Martínez-Íñigo, L., Baas, P., Klein, H., Pika, S., & Deschner, T. (2021). Intercommunity interactions and killings in central chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes troglodytes) from Loango National Park, Gabon. Primates, 1-14.  read more

Martínez-Íñigo, L., Baas, P., Klein, H., Pika, S., & Deschner, T. (2021). Home range size in central chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes troglodytes) from Loango National Park, Gabon. Primates, 1-12.  read more

Lester, J. D., Vigilant, L., Gratton, P., McCarthy, M. S., Barratt, C. D., Dieguez, P., Agbor, A., Álvarez-Varona, P., Angedakin, S., Ayimisin, A. E., Bailey, E., Bessone, M., Brazzola, G., Chancellor, R., Cohen, H., Danquah, E., Deschner, T., Egbe, V. E., Eno-Nku, M., Goedmakers, A., Granjon, A.-C., Head, J., Hedwig, D., Hernandez-Aguilar, R. A., Jeffery, K. J., Jones, S., Junker, J., Kadam, P., Kaiser, M., Kalan, A. K., Kehoe, L., Kienast, I., Langergraber, K. E., Lapuente, J., Laudisoit, A., Lee, K., Marrocoli, S., Mihindou, V., Morgan, D., Muhanguzi, G., Neil, E., Nicholl, S., Orbell, C., Ormsby, L. J., Pacheco, L., Piel, A., Robbins, M. M., Rundus, A., Sanz, C., Sciaky, L., Siaka, A. M., Städele, V., Stewart, F., Tagg, N., Ton, E., van Schijndel, J., Vyalengerera, M. K., Wessling, E. G., Willie, J., Wittig, R. M., Yuh, Y. G., Yurkiw, K., Zuberbuehler, K., Boesch, C., Kühl, H. S., & Arandjelovic, M. (2021). Recent genetic connectivity and clinal variation in chimpanzees. Communications Biology,4: 283.  read more

Klein, H., Bocksberger, G., Baas, P., Bunel, S., Théleste, E., Pika, S., & Deschner, T. (2021). Hunting of mammals by central chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes troglodytes) in the Loango National Park, Gabon. Primates, 1-12.  read more 

Fontsere, C., Alvarez‐Estape, M., Lester, J. D., Arandjelovic, M., Kuhlwilm, M., Dieguez, P., Agbor, A., Angedakin, S., Ayimisin, A. E., Bessone, M., Brazzola, G., Deschner, T., Eno‐Nku, M., Granjon, A.-C., Head, J. S., Kadam, P., Kalan, A. K., Kambi, M., Langergraber, K., Lapuente, J., Maretti, G., Ormsby, L. J., Piel, A., Robbins, M. M., Stewart, F., Vergnes, V., Wittig, R. M., Kühl, H. S., Marques‐Bonet, T., Hughes, D. A., & Lizano, E. 2020. Maximizing the acquisition of unique reads in noninvasive capture sequencing experiments (advance online). Molecular Ecology Resources, 13300.  read more

Mubemba, B., Gogarten, J. F., Schuenemann, V. J., Düx, A., Lang, A., Nowak, K., Pléh, K., Reiter, E., Ulrich, M., Agbor, A., Brazzola, G., Deschner, T., Dieguez, P., Granjon, A.-C., Jones, S., Junker, J., Wessling, E., Arandjelovic, M., Kühl, H. S., Wittig, R. M., Leendertz, F. H., & Calvignac-Spencer, S. 2020. Geographically structured genomic diversity of non-human primate-infecting Treponema pallidum subsp. pertenue. Microbial Genomics,6(11).  read more

Kalan, A. K., Kulik, L., Arandjelovic, M., Boesch, C., Haas, F., Dieguez, P., Barratt, C. D., Abwe, E. E., Agbor, A., Angedakin, S., Aubert, F., Ayimisin, A. E., Bailey, E., Bessone, M., Brazzola, G., Buh, V. E., Chancellor, R., Cohen, H., Coupland, C., Curran, B., Danquah, E., Deschner, T., Dowd, D., Eno-Nku, M., Fay, M. J., Goedmakers, A., Granjon, A.-C., Head, J., Hedwig, D., Hermans, V., Jeffery, K. J., Jones, S., Junker, J., Kadam, P., Kambi, M., Kienast, I., Kujirakwinja, D., Langergraber, K. E., Lapuente, J., Larson, B., Lee, K., Leinert, V., Llana, M., Marrocoli, S., Meier, A., Morgan, B., Morgan, D., Neil, E., Nicholl, S., Normand, E., Ormsby, L. J., Pacheco, L., Piel, A., Preece, J., Robbins, M. M., Rundus, A., Sanz, C., Sommer, V., Stewart, F., Tagg, N., Tennie, C., Vergnes, V., Welsh, A., Wessling, E. G., Willie, J., Wittig, R. M., Yuh, Y. G., Zuberbühler, K., & Kühl, H. S. 2020. Environmental variability supports chimpanzee behavioural diversity. Nature Communications,11(1): 4451.  read more

Gillespie, T. R., Leendertz, F. H., The Great Ape Health Consortium, including authors, Deschner, T., Robbins, M. M., Wittig, R. M., & & others (2020). COVID-19: protect great apes during human pandemics. Nature,579, 497-497.  read more

Gogarten, J. F., Calvignac-Spencer, S., Nunn, C. L., Ulrich, M., Saiepour, N., Nielsen, H. V., Deschner, T., Fichtel, C., Kappeler, P. M., Knauf, S., Müller-Klein, N., Ostner, J., Robbins, M. M., Sangmaneedet, S., Schülke, O., Surbeck, M., Wittig, R. M., Sliwa, A., Strube, C., Leendertz, F. H., Roos, C., & Noll, A. (2020). Metabarcoding of eukaryotic parasite communities describes diverse parasite assemblages spanning the primate phylogeny. Molecular Ecology,20(1), 204-215.  read more

Estienne, V. L., Robira, B., Mundry, R., Deschner, T., & Boesch, C. (2019). Acquisition of a complex extractive technique by the immature chimpanzees of Loango National Park, Gabon. Animal Behaviour, 147, 61-76.  read more 

Hagemann, L., Arandjelovic, M., Robbins, M. M., Deschner, T., Lewis, M., Froese, G., Boesch, C. and Vigilant, L. 2019. Long-term inference of population size and habitat use in a socially dynamic population of wild western lowland gorillas. Conservation Genetics,20(6), 1303-1314.  read more

 
Loango Nationalpark aus der Vogelperspektive
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 The untouched landscape 
of the Loango National Park 

Conservation

We protect chimpanzees and their natural habitat through public outreach, productive cooperation with local authorities and NGOs and tangible support to local populations.

    We disseminate information on the behavioral and ecological significance of chimpanzees, to counter misconceptions about keeping chimpanzees as pets or eating them as game.

    We publish new findings in scientific journals, regular press releases and on our website.

We participate in symposia with renowned experts to raise awareness on the importance of chimpanzee conservation and their natural habitats.

We share our findings with chimpanzee sanctuaries to improve housing conditions and make them as appropriate as possible for the individuals under their care.

 
Schutz der Schimpansen

A young chimpanzee whose mother was killed by poachers, kept in a small cage in a village close to the Park.

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News
 
 
 
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Press

Interview (in German) from 04.04.2021 for »DeinSpiegel«

»In the jungle we wear masks.«

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Publications

»Lethal coalitionary attacks of chimpanzees on gorillas in the wild«

Original: »Lethal coalitionary attacks of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes troglodytes) on gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) in the wild«

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Project

On the 23rd of June 2021 we found Carol with a new baby that must have been born during the night, since it was still attached to its umbilical cord and the placenta...

»Carol has a baby.«

 
Videos from Ozouga