Surrounded by 129,000 acres of dense rainforest and savannah, the Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center is the largest chimpanzee sanctuary in Africa. Located in Republic of Congo, the sanctuary is a safe home for chimpanzees rescued from the black market.
Originally built to shelter just 60 chimpanzees, Tchimpounga is now home to more than 150 orphaned chimps. The sanctuary recently expanded its boundaries to include three pristine islands. With 100 times more forest than the original sanctuary, the islands offer excellent habitat for the chimpanzees where they are protected from hunting and deforestation.
Every year, poachers in the Congo Basin kill thousands of chimpanzees as part of the illegal bushmeat trade. Typically, the hunters spare the lives of the youngest chimpanzees, confiscating them and selling them as pets, despite laws forbidding such trade. We work to end the illegal commercial bushmeat trade through education and awareness programs, community-centered conservation activities, and working with law enforcement agents.
A Day in the life at Tchimpounga Sanctuary
The Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center, managed by the Jane Goodall Institute in partnership with the Government of the Republic of Congo, is not open to the public.
Research at Tchimpounga
The Tchimpounga sanctuary hosts several research groups studying the evolutionary links between humans and chimpanzees. Even though we share approximately 98% of our DNA with chimps, there are several important differences ranging from the physical – for example, humans walk on two legs while chimpanzees usually use all four limbs to move around – to the cognitive.
Observing chimpanzees without disturbing them in their natural habitat is extremely important to maintaining accurate research results. The orphans at the Tchimpounga sanctuary live in groups much as they would in the wild. This allows for organic social development and learning, and provides researchers with insights into a young wild chimpanzee’s growth.
JGI uses non-invasive research methods to study the links between human and chimpanzee development. They make behavioural observations of young chimpanzees, bonobos, and human children and pose challenges designed to test individual ability to problem solve. By comparing the results of these tests, researchers can help shed light on the evolution of human social cognition. Researchers also examine the importance of individual personalities and emotional responses in problem solving abilities.
Photo credits (top to bottom): Fernando Turmo/JGI Congo
The Jane Goodall Institute does not endorse handling, interacting or close proximity to chimpanzees or other wildlife. The rescued chimpanzees seen in these photographs / video are cared for by trained professionals at JGI’s Tchimpounga sanctuary.