There are three major threats affecting West African Chimpanzees. In order of priority, they are habitat destruction and degradation, secondly poaching and thirdly diseases.
The first threat is by far the most important one in the Boe sector of Guinea Bissau. It includes destruction of Gallery Forests for shifting cultivation practices, the conversion of forests for Cashew plantations. Habitat destruction through large scale bauxite mining is not yet a reality, but a mining concession has been given out, and the first adventurers are coming into the Boe anticipating mining development.
Poaching of chimpanzees for the pet-trade does occur, but is of minor importance at this moment. More of a problem are the people-chimpanzee conflicts around agricultural fields, where crops like sugar-cane may be raided by Chimpanzee families.
Catch a glimpse of some Boe Chimpanzees exploring a jungle watering spot:
The project will focus on working directly with 28 Village Vigilance Committees (VVC's) in the Boe region.
This project addresses in the first place the problem of habitat destruction by the growing population of the Boe. Secondly it addresses poaching in general and of chimpanzee poaching in particular. Finally, the project introduces pilot-activities to minimize human-chimpanzee conflict.
One of the priorities will be equipping the VVC's with new uniforms, boots and bicycles so they may continue their work. Secondly the project will focus on basic training of the 140 members of the VVC's on the importance of conservation and how to implement conservation actions at village level, including two-weekly patrols of village territories, the management and control of bush fires and awareness activities through exchanges with inhabitants from adjacent villages and campsites.
These actions will be supported by a general awareness campaign conducted through the BoÃ©-radio channel as well as brochures and cultural activities. Furthermore, project implementers will ensure support and follow-up to reported incidents by authorities.
Finally the project will include pilot-activities to improve livelihood conditions in order to reduce pressure on the natural environment. These include sustainable harvesting of products from nature; the conservation of cultural values; introduction of methods that reduce human-chimpanzee conflicts and the demonstration of adapted agricultural practices.
The goal of this project is to contribute in an effective way to the improvement of the conservation status of the West African Chimpanzee. In practical terms this means encouraging the local communities to actively participate in the conservation of the chimpanzees living in the Boe National Park and its surrounding area. This will lead to a mitigation of threats for the chimpanzees themselves and their habitats; thereby strengthening the ecological network of intact habitats that facilitates easy exchange between chimpanzee populations in the region.