Dr. Jane Goodall was in Senegal to open the first JGI Chimpanzee Research and Conservation Center in West Africa.
On her first visit to Senegal, the scientist meets with environmental authorities and endorses the research and conservation work of the JGI team in the field.
Dr. Jane Goodall has officially inaugurated the JGI’s “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. This center, located in the Dindefelo Rural Community, is run by the Instituto Jane Goodall España (Spain), which works with the local, regional and national authorities on the management of natural resources and biodiversity. Dr. Goodall and the directors of the JGI team in Senegal, Ferran Guallar and Liliana Pacheco, met in Dakar with the Environment Minister, Mr. Mor Ngom, and the National Parks authorities to share their views on the conservation of chimpanzees in the country. In the evening, Jane Goodall participated in an event organised by JGI in collaboration with the Spanish and British Embassies. Dr. Goodall pointed out that in the coming years, 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”, and even a lost opportunity for sustainable development and ecotourism in the future, as has happened in other places. Dr Jane encouraged international agencies and private companies to support the authorities and those involved in the conservation of these unique creatures, which can offer so much pride to Senegal.
Next, Dr. Goodall crossed the country to reach Dindefelo (southeast Senegal) and meet the rest of the JGI team. In the small village, situated close to the Guinean border, Dr. Jane was warmly welcomed by the whole community. The 79-year-old primatologist was very happy to inaugurate the impressive JGI research & conservation center and see all the work carried out over recent years by the JGI team, made up of 20 Spanish volunteers and 7 local assistants. Dr. Goodall also inaugurated the Visitor Centre at the Dindefelo Community Natural Reserve, created with the technical assistance of the Jane Goodall Institute.
Since 2009, the Instituto Jane Goodall España (IJGE) has been working in the Kédougou region, in particular in the Dindefelo Rural Community, to protect the country’s last chimpanzees and to improve the lives of its people. Since the program began, the Instituto Jane Goodall España has focused its work on research applied to the conservation of chimpanzees, with important achievements like the creation of the Dindefelo Community Natural Reserve and progress towards the future Fouta Jallon Transfrontier Reserve, which will include territories in Guinea and Senegal. It also promotes awareness-raising campaigns and educational programs, infrastructure improvements and enhancement of tourism resources. The research station offers training courses on field primatology and plans to host and assist international students and researchers in different fields.
The ecosystems of West Africa, which are still home to one of the most endangered subspecies of chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes verus), are rapidly deteriorating. Studies carried out in recent years by the Instituto Jane Goodall show that the fragile forested savannahs of the northern limit of the species’ range cannot support the growing degradation from agricultural expansion, logging and mining operations. Habitat fragmentation reduces the life expectancies of the chimpanzee communities and causes serious problems like the degradation of surface and underground aquifers. It is estimated that between 200 and 400 individuals of the subspecies Pan troglodytes verus still live in Senegal, in a habitat catalogued by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as a priority for the conservation of the chimpanzee.