Helping the sustainable development of rural communities helps the conservation of the last chimpanzees in Senegal
Kedougou is the capital of one of the most disadvantaged regions of Senegal. Its remote geographical location, southeast of the country on the border with Mali and Guinea, keeps it away from the development of the coast, and impoverished families have to resort to any methods to ensure their own survival, even if they are not sustainable.
At the same time, this region, which includes the Commune of Dindefelo, is also home to the only and last chimpanzees of Senegal, belonging to the most critically endangered subspecies. They are threatened by the loss and degradation of their habitats produced by human activities such as deforestation caused by unsustainable agricultural techniques, cattle grazing and uncontrolled fires.
Some groups of chimpanzees in Senegal feature many unique behavioural patterns developed to adapt themselves to this hot and dry habitat, such as getting into water pools, using caves to avoid the heat and spear-hunting of some smaller primates. The region is already highly affected by climate change, making the survival of these chimpanzee populations very critical.
The extinction of these chimpanzees would entail an incalculable loss. But all this can be reverted, by working hand in hand with the local communities, helping them to achieve food security through sustainable agriculture, training and sensitizing them to manage natural resources in a way that the future of their children is ensured, while protecting the habitat of the remaining chimpanzees in the Commune of Dindéfélo and surrounding area.
What does the Jane Goodall Institute do in Senegal?
- Research: JGI is the exclusive technical assistant to the Reserve Naturelle de la Communauté de Dindéfélo (RNCD), and works along the authorities to create protected areas, corridors and reforestation zones. JGI carries out trainings and meetings with authorities and local stakeholders, organizes and funds firebreak plans, and promotes the ecotourism in the Reserve, which includes chimpanzee tracking. JGI does diverse studies and censuses to assess chimpanzee populations and threats to their habitat.
- Public awareness and education: JGI conducts educational programmes and awareness-raising actions, environmental cinema sessions, radio workshops, hazardous waste collection campaigns (batteries, etc.), educational camps and school scholarships for children in Senegal and Guinea. The Jane Goodall Institute Belgium specifically supports the Roots & Shoots youth leadership programme in Senegal.
- Agroforestry: JGI carries out reforestation projects of chimpanzee corridors, food security projects for the local population, the creation of a buffer zone to help the community to obtain needed resources while conserving the protected areas, “living fences” projects to prevent the extraction of wood from the forests, and studies to improve the productivity of the soil and help the growing and processing of autochthonous cereals.
- Water, health and sanitation: construction of schools, construction and reparation of wells, laundries and latrines, construction of a training center, hygiene workshops and distribution of products, distribution of solar lamps, assistance in veterinary and health issues.
How you can help the local communities and the chimpanzees at the same time?
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Photo credit: (hero image) S. Rodríguez/JGI Senegal