• Introduction

    Our understanding of apes has significantly increased over the past five decades. Long-term research sites such as Gombe Stream Reserve and Karisoke Research Centre have greatly contributed to this. The Gombe Stream Reserve established in 1965, conducts daily follows of the chimpanzee community and continues to further our understanding of chimpanzee range use, social dynamics, health and diet (Pusey et al., 2007). Jane Goodall’s pioneering work was the first to document that chimpanzees eat meat and hunt, since documented at most other sites across Africa where chimpanzees are studied. Research in the Virungas started in the late 1950s and since 1967 three to four gorilla groups have been regularly followed by researchers from the Karisoke Research Station established by Dian Fossey. More than 30 years of research has made mountain gorillas one of the best studied primate species and much is known about their social behaviour, feeding ecology, life history patterns and demography (Plumptre & Williamson, 2001). In both these cases, research has involved habituating apes to facilitate close observational study but research can also involve studying and monitoring indirect signs of apes such as nests, feeding remains and dung.

    Scientific research pertinent to ape conservation is wide ranging in its subject matter and scope. Given the impact of human activities on wildlife it necessarily includes human dimensions in addition to species focused studies. This may include for example socioeconomic studies of local human populations; environmental and social impact of extractive industry; assessment of an education programme before and after to assess attitudinal and behaviour change; and effectiveness of conservation strategies and so on. For example, a recent study compared the presence and absence of conservation activities at 109 African ape resource management areas over a 20 years period and found the presence of law enforcement guards as the best predictor of ape survival (Tranquilli et al., 2011). The results of this study will help guide future investment in guard training, manpower, equipment and effective patrolling schemes.

    The information on this website on species, threats and conservation topics has been sourced and extracted from an extensive pool of research representing hundreds of researcher years.

  • How does research help ape conservation?

  • Are there also negative aspects of research?

  • How is it implemented / applied in practice?

Compiled and edited 2011 by Kay H. Farmer
Reviewed by Hjalmar Kuehl, Josephine Head and Neba Funwi-Gabga

  • References