Chimpanzee Guardianships

Jane Goodall Institute Belgium supports the orphaned chimpanzees at the Chimp Eden Sanctuary in South Africa and the chimpanzees living in their natural habitat at the Dindefelo Nature Reserve in Senegal.

New chimpanzee guardians will receive:

  • Information about their chimpanzee guardianship programme
  • Information about the Dindefelo Community Nature Reserve or Chimp Eden Sanctuary
  • Biography of the chosen couple of chimpanzees (mother & child)
  • Our special periodic newsletter for chimpanzee guardians with updates on both programmes
    Preview Newsletter >>
  • Invitations to exclusive Jane Goodall Institute Belgium events
Chimp Eden Sanctuary

Situated within the beautiful 1,000 hectare Umhloti Nature Reserve, 15 kilometres outside Nelspruit, the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) South Africa Chimpanzee Sanctuary is home to chimps that have been misplaced from their natural habitats in Africa.

Chimp Eden was established in 2006 and is the first and only chimpanzee sanctuary in South Africa.  This JGI chimpanzee sanctuary brings the world of chimpanzees closer to humanity through education end eco-tourism. The goal of the chimpanzee sanctuary is to rescue chimpanzees that have survived the bush meat trade, been orphaned, traded in the illegal pet market, or rescued from being traumatised for entertainment in circuses, beach resorts and night clubs.

It’s a happy life for these primates at the Chimpanzee Eden, but their cheerful behaviour belies their individual tragic histories. Each one of these chimpanzees has been rescued by the Jane Goodall Institute, mostly from logging and the related bushmeat trade. While adults are killed, the babies are kept as pets or sold all over Africa.

Lika was kept for years in a dark brick cage in Luanda, Angola. It took her a very long time to adjust to other chimpanzees – she hadn’t seen one since her family was killed. Nina was a little orphan, confiscated from bushmeat hunters in Sudan. She and the other little ones from Sudan – Thomas, Dinka, Zee and Charlie, still tend to stick together. A few others were rescued from circuses. Zac and Guida were chained to trees outside a nightclub in Luanda and were severely undernourished. They’d also been taught to drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes to amuse guests, and their fur was falling out. Zac’s recovery, in particular, was one of the most dramatic at the Jane Goodall Institute’s Chimpanzee Eden.

It’s unlikely that any of these chimpanzees can ever be released back into the wild, simply because conditions are perilous for them all over the continent. But here they live a semi-wild chimpanzee life – foraging, interacting with each other in massive treed enclosures on this 1000-hectare nature reserve, eating healthy food. They are treated with constant kindness – something in short supply in their previous lives.

Founded in 1977, the Jane Goodall Institute continues Dr Goodall’s pioneering research on chimpanzee behaviour.  This research transformed scientific perceptions of the relationship between humans and animals.  The South African chimpanzee sanctuary is proud to be part of the Jane Goodall Institute, which is a global leader in the effort to conserve and preserve endangered species and habitats, and in particular chimpanzees.

Some 30 chimpanzees are living at Chimp Eden Sanctuary. Start meeting 2 of them: Hiila and Cheempo.

Dindefelo Nature Reserve

The Jane Goodall Institute programme for the research and conservation of chimpanzees and the sustainable management of natural resources is carried out in in the Kédougou region, in southeastern Senegal, and across the border in the north of Guinea. The majority of the JGI activities in Senegal are carried out within the Dindéfélo Community Nature Reserve although the programme also includes other villages and adjacent areas.

Kédougou is the one of the only regions with chimpanzees in its territory. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the chimpanzees that live in Senegal, are critically endangered. In fact, the presence of these primates was the main reason for the creation of the Dindéfélo Community as a protected area.

The Reserve is located at the edge of the Fouta Jallon mountain range, at the source of the Gambia, Senegal and Niger rivers. Its mountains, rare to see in a country that is practically flat, its topography and its climate (intense drought period from October to May and a rainy season from May to September) favor the existence of different types of forests and savannas, creating a spectacular landscape and an impressive diversity of fauna.​
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With the creation of the Dindéfélo Community Nature Reserve and the activities of the JGI in Senegal, an ecotourism model has been created to contribute to the sustainable development of the community as well as to the conservation  of the chimpanzee and their environment.

Chimpanzees are one of the species of great apes that inhabit the planet and they are in the wild in tropical Africa. Together with the bonobos, chimpanzees are the closest species to humans in physical, behavioral and genetic terms (there is only a genetic difference between the chimpanzees and us of about 1,4%), so the study of chimpanzees provides an important approach for the knowledge of our evolutionary history. They are extremely social and intelligent animals, with high cognitive abilities for learning. A large number of behaviors are transmitted from generation to generation, which means that chimpanzees have cultural behaviors.

The chimpanzee of Western Africa is one of the two most endangered chimpanzee subspecies together with the chimpanzee of Nigeria-Cameroon. The chimpanzee of Western Africa is extinct in Togo and Gambia, potentially extinct in Benin and it could soon be pushed to the extinction in Burkina Faso, Senegal – in 2001 Butynski estimated the number of chimpanzees in Senegal between 200 to 400 individuals- and Ghana. The IUCN cataloged this subspecies as “critically endangered” on the 2016 Red List.

The fragmentation and loss of habitat as a result of human activities such as deforestation, either by cutting trees down or because the establishment of crop fields and fires, are some the biggest threats that chimpanzees suffer in West Africa in Senegal, along with the construction of infrastructures (water damn, high-tension lines & towers, roads, etc). For this reason, many populations of this subspecies are isolated in patches of forest which compromises their long-term survival. Fortunately, neither poaching nor illegal trafficking of chimpanzees are currently the main threat for the survival of this subspecies in Senegal but they are a threat in Guinea and other countries

Photo credits: (hero image) Michael Nichols/National Geographic 1990, (1st) JGI South Africa, (2nd) JGI Spain
The Jane Goodall Institute does not endorse handling, interacting or close proximity to chimpanzees or other wildlife. The hero image is a historical photograph that cannot be cut or shown outside the original context. The rescued chimpanzees seen in these photographs are cared for by trained professionals at JGI’s Tchimpounga sanctuary.