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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 protection. 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.


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.


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.

The Rekambo chimpanzees

Male chimpanzees
Arnold - Adolescent male chimpanzee

Male / adult

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

Male / adolescent

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.

Littlegrey - Adult male chimpanzee

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

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.

Chenge - Adult male chimpanzee

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

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.

Moana - Juvenile male chimpanzee

Male / adolescent

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

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.

Chinois - Adult male chimpanzee

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.

Gump - Adult male chimpanzee

Male / adult

Mother: Ida

Gump is one of our younger males. He is an interesting looking chimp with some funny mannerisms. We called him Gump after the infamous Forest Gump because during the years of habituation he was always running! He has now grown up and spends a lot more time with the main group, however he still loves to be with his mother Ida, little brother Iboga and adopted little sister Olive. His favourite play mate is Sassandra.

Ngonde - Adult male chimpanzee

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.

Female chimpanzees
Aroide - Adult female chimpanzee

Female / adult

Aroide is a mother to both Arnold and Assala. She has very unique scared ears that stick up on her head and are easy to recognize. She has become more habituated over the last year and now spends more time with the main group. The family of Aroide are very close and the three are often followed alone as a sub-party for multiple days.

Diboti - Adult female chimpanzee

Female / adult

Diboti was first seen with the group along with Kira in November 2020 but joined permanently a few months later. At first, she was a little shy but now she is finding her place amongst the other females. She has a very unique face shape and is easily recognisable with her big ears and bald head.

Greta - Subadult female chimpanzee

Female / subadult

Greta is a young subadult female that spends her time a lot with Bella. With her pale face and bald head, she is easily recognisable. Greta is quite shy in nature but is becoming increasingly more confident around humans.

Ivindo - Adult female chimpanzee

Female / adoleszent

Ivindo has now become an important member of our community. Daughter of Ikoulou and nine years of age, she is one of the most curious and exploratory individuals, who likes to play and interact with others. Physically, her most notable feature is her highlighted pink lips.

Mimi - Adult female chimpanzee

Female / adult

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

Queliba - Adult female chimpanzee

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.

Suzee - Adult female chimpanzee

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.

Assala - Adult female chimpanzee

Female / subadult

Assala is Arnold’s little sister and Aroide’s daughter. Conforming to the family characteristic, she too has large ears and pointed conehead. She is a quiet teenager, who spends all her time with her family, and hardly ever gets into inconvenient situations with the other members of the group. Soon she will have to migrate to another community.

Emmi - Adult female chimpanzee

Female / adult

Emmie is an adult female and has a young son called Ernest. She spends a lot of time without the main group and with the other females Bella and Spock. When she is with the main group, she is still very cautious around us. Emmie is however very popular with all the male chimpanzees in the group.

Ida - Adult female chimpanzee

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.

Joy - Adult female chimpanzee

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.

Monkey - Adult female chimpanzee

Female / adult

Monkey is an elusive adult female who spends a lot of time with Spock. For a long time, the only information we had about her was from the camera trap footage. Recently she has been showing up more often with the main group. She is the mother of little Mbolo.

Roxy - Adult female chimpanzee

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.

Wora - Adult female chimpanzee

Female / adult

Wora is a true legend of the Rekambo community. She is very old and has a distinctive bald head and hairless body. We have only seen her very rarely in person and it appears she is partially blind given the way she moves through the forest. That being said she is a true survivor and somehow manages to stay out of dangers way.

Bella - Adult female chimpanzee

Female / adult

Bella was originally identified and named from our camera trap data in the project’s early years. We only got to know her personality more recently when she became more habituated to human observers. Physically, with her large build, she can sometimes resemble a male chimpanzee from far away. When we do get to observe her, Bella is a very attentive mother to her young daughter Bantou.

Fanta - Subadult female chimpanzee

Female / subadult

Fanta is the newest young female who has joined the Rekambo community. She has a deep black fur and a darker face coloration. She is very lively and spends a lot of time within the main group.

Ikoulou - Adult female chimpanzee

Female / adult

Ikoulou is one of the most dominant females of the group and certainly one of the largest in size. Equipped with a strong and determined character, she is also one of the most loved females by the males of the group, in particular by Pandi and Chinois.

Kira - Adult female chimpanzee

Female / adult

Kira also was first spotted with Diboti in November 2020; however, it took her a little longer to become fully integrated into the Rekambo community. One of her most distinctive traits is that she likes to perform loud exaggerated displays, which are quite rare in female chimpanzees.

Pai - Adult female chimpanzee

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.

Spock - Adult female chimpanzee

Female / adult

Spock’s most recognizable feature are definitely her unique ears, which inspired her name. For many years she was a female that we only really saw on the camera traps but recently she has been seen more frequently with the main group.

Zoe - Adult female chimpanzee

Female / subadult

Zoe is also a new-comer to the group along with Diboti and Kira. Physically her most remarkable trait is her white eye which is hard to miss. From the beginning, she has been incredibly calm in front of human observers, although by nature she is very shy and reserved. She is now finding her place amongst the females of the group but has the friendship of other newcomers this year to help support her.

Children and Juveniles
Bantou - Female chimpanzee infant

FEMALE / infant

Bantou is the daughter of Bella.

Janil - Female chimpanzee infant

FEMALE / infant

Janil is our newest-born member of the Rekambo community and the daughter of Joy. Seeing her discovering the world around her is a true joy to any observer!

Olive - Juvenile chimpanzee woman

FEMALE / juveniles

Olive is undoubtably one of the cutest chimpanzees around! Sadly, her mother, Otangani, passed away in 2020 and she turned up alone in the group. However, the males and an adult female Ida were kind enough to take little Olive under their wing. She is now growing up to be a playful and adventurous juvenile. 

Ernest - Juvenile chimpanzee man

MALE / juvenile

Ernest is the son of Emmie and loves riding on his mother back, although he is far too old to be doing so. With his playful nature he even gets the adult males to play with him.

Madiba - Female chimpanzee infant

FEMALE / infant

Madiba is the daughter of Mimi. She is very close to her mother and misses a fingertip on her left hand.

Pastis - Male chimpanzee infant

MALE / infant

Pastis is the son of Pai and has a very strong charisma! He loves to play and is very gregarious with the adult males. Recently, Pai started to wean him, and he is not very happy about it!

Iboga - Male chimpanzee infant

MALE / infant

Iboga is Ida’s son and stands out with his bright, smiling face and his big ears.

Mbolo - Male chimpanzee infant

MALE / infant

Mbolo is the son of Monkey and we have only recently got to see him for the first time. He doesn’t seem to be as shy as his mother and enjoys playing with the other infants in the group!

Sasandra - Female chimpanzee infant

FEMALE / infant

Little Sassandra is the star of the group, and is the favourite of many human observers as well as many other chimpanzees in the community. Under her mother Suzee’s watchful eye she loves to roll around and play with all the adults. She is growing up to be a confident, extroverted little lady who gets away with all her mischievous behaviour. 

Tropical Beach



The project is led by Prof. Dr. Simone Pika employed at the University of Osnabrück and Dr. Tobias Deschner.


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.

Tobias Deschner

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.

Simone Pika

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.