JGI NZ is working together with other Chapters of JGI and partners within New Zealand to have direct impact on projects in Africa.

JGI NZ, JGI Spain & Wellington Zoo

Dr Goodall and the JGI Spain team at the Fouta Jallon research station in Senegal.

JGI Spain & West Africa

Since 2009, the Instituto Jane Goodall España (IJGE) or JGI Spain, has been working in the Kédougou region of West Africa, in particular in the Dindefelo Rural Community, to protect the country’s last chimpanzees and to improve the lives of its people. Since the programme began, JGI Spain has focused its work on research applied to the conservation of chimpanzees, with important achievements like the creation of the Dindefelo Community Natural Reserve (13.000 Ha), which is the first community reserve with chimpanzee conservation as its main goal. Also there is progress towards the future Fouta Jallon Transfrontier Reserve, which will include territories in Guinea and Senegal. It also promotes awareness-raising campaigns and educational programmes, infrastructure improvements and enhancement of tourism resources. 

JGI Spain run the “Fouta Jallon” Biological Station, a center for applied research on the West African Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes verus), a subspecies that is at high risk of extinction in Senegal. At the last census (2003) the population numbers were recorded to be bewteen 200-400 individuals. As Dr. Goodall pointed out at the opening of the centre in 2013, this species, which is so important on a scientific level, could disappear in Senegal. “Apart from being an enormous loss for biodiversity, it would represent a loss for the country and science”. One of the biggest concerns for the Chimpanzees is loss of habitat which is primarily caused by low agricultural productivity, slash and burn methods, an increase in human population in the area, and the unsustainable extraction of wood and fruits. This deforestation is also already affecting rain patterns, which millions of Africans depend upon in the region.


Esta, Amanda Barciela, Liliana Pacheco and Djibi Diallo after the field trip in Ségou
Esta Wilson-Burke in Kedougou, Senegal.Photo: Wellington Zoo

New Zealand, Spain & Senegal

In early 2016 Esta Wilson-Burke, one of the Primate Keepers at Wellington Zoo, joined the JGI Spain team in Kedougou, Senegal. Esta worked with the research team, who study the behaviour, biology and ecology of the chimpanzees. Spending time at three different field sites during her month long stay.

The main objective for the research team is an ecological survey, identification and habituation of the chimp group. Ecological data collection and recorded details is extensive. Including recording indirect signs of the chimps such as nests, faeces, food scraps, footprints, broken branches and direct signs of the chimps, calls and vocalisations, visuals of them, behaviour, reactions to researchers, etc. Also sighting other animals, wild or domestic, signs of human activity in the reserve (e.g. trees cut down) and the weather. The technology utlised included a Runbo device for the data collection, loaded with a program called Cyber Tracker, then the data is viewed via SMART (Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool). 

Esta was able to contribute to the work of JGI Spain and in turn take away skills and knowledge for her own work in New Zealand. The JGI Spain team were also thrilled with the enthusiasm Esta brought to her time with them. Esta also left with memories of trekking, the kindness of the people, the intricate landscape and habitat of the valley, learning from, and working alongside the wonderful research and teams, but most special to her was that it was first place she saw wild chimpanzees. "It was an incredible moment for me on a personal and a professional level. I felt so humbled and ecstatic to see this amazing animal in her natural habitat, it truly was an experience I will never forget".

Huge thanks to Wellington Zoo and their Conservation Fund, and JGI Spain and the communities in Kedougou for their support to enable this collaberation to take place.

JGI New Zealand believe that we can achieve more together. As such we welcome opportunites to partner  to help all make a difference.

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She blazed the trail. The next steps are up to us.