There are four subspecies of chimpanzees in Africa, but the Western Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) (see yellow area on the map)- are the only ones that are listed by the IUCN Red List as Critically Endangered. This is because they have declined by 80% in the last 24 years (Kühl et al. 2017). They have already disappeared in Burkina Faso, Togo and Benin. Ghana has less than a few hundred left. Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea-Bissau have less than 2,000. Mali and Senegal have less than 3,000. Liberia and Sierra Leone have around 6,000. Guinea has the largest number of chimpanzees in West Africa with an estimated 33,000 individuals.
Guinea is divided into four administrative and geographic regions: Guinée Maritime on the coast, the Fouta Djallon in the middle of the country, Haute Guinée in the east, and Guinée Forestière in the very south of the country along the border with Sierra Leone, Cote d'Ivoire and Liberia.
For more information about each region, the chimpanzees that inhabit them, and active priority conservation projects that are protecting them, see below.
Most chimpanzees in Guinea are found in the Fouta Djallon highlands of Guinea. Chimpanzees have survived here for centuries because of religious and cultural taboos against hunting or eating chimpanzees. The Fouta is thus the stronghold for the survival of the Western Chimpanzees. Protection of their habitat here is critical to prevent the extinction of this subspecies of chimpanzee.
In the Fouta Djallon, several projects are working towards the conservation of chimpanzees and their habitat. The Wild Chimpanzee Foundation is working in the newly created Moyen Bafing National Park and Guinee Ecologie is working in partnership with Biotope in pilot sites throughout the Fouta Djallon with the COHAB Fouta Project.
The Jane Goodall Institute is also working in the Fouta Djallon near the border with Senegal.
Outside of the Fouta, there are other priority populations of chimpanzees. In Guinee Forestiere, the chimpanzees of Bossou, have been studied since the 1970s - almost 50 years. Research is carried out by a collaboration between the Kyoto University Primate Research Institute, (KUPRI) and the Direction Nationale de la Recherch Scientifique (DNRST) Institut de Recherche Environnementale de Bossou (IREB). Since 1995, the Bossou chimpanzees have been observed to crack nuts, fish for algae with sticks, among many other cultural behaviors. The study of the individual chimpanzees at Bossou demonstrates how unique and sacred is the life of each and every chimpanzees.
Sadly, the forest in Bossou are now isolated from surrounding forests. KUPRI and IREB are now working to replant this forest with the Green Corridor Project.
Also in Guinee Forestiere, Ziama forest still provide home to chimpanzees chimpanzees as well as Guinea's last population of elephants. Fauna and Flora International are working in Ziama to help protect these forests.
The World Heritage Site in Danger of Mount Nimba also has a significant population of chimpanzees. Plans for mining iron ore on Mount Nimba threaten the future of this priority population.
Photograph by Kalyanee Mam taken in Bossou, Guinea 2017
Photograph by Vincent Brudo
Haute Guinée is one of the hottest and driest areas of Guinea. Although chimpanzees are rare or absent in some parts of this region, in other parts they are still present and thriving, such as in the Parc National de Haut Niger (PNHN). This area of 1,200 square kilometers of savanna and dry forest, is one of the most important protected areas in Guinea, providing home to buffalo, crocodiles, hippos and lions as well as chimpanzees. Situated within the PNHN is the Chimpanzee Conservation Center (CCC)–a sanctuary for orphan chimpanzees. This center aims to provide a home for these orphans, so that agents from the Direction National des Eaux et Forêts (National Direction for Water and Forests) can enforce the law and confiscate chimpanzees from poachers or anyone who has obtained them illegally. Whenever possible, the CCC also aims to reintroduce these orphans chimpanzees back to the wild.
Other priority sites in this region include the chimpanzees on the Pic de Fon Mountain Chain threatened by iron-ore mining, populations in Siguiri close to the border with Mali, and chimpanzee populations in Dabola and Dinguiraye as well.
Photograph by Catherine Andre
Guinée Maritime is the region that lies along the coast of Guinea, extending inland to border with the Fouta Djallon region. Most of the major bauxite (used to make aluminum) deposits are in this region within the Boké sub-province. Some, but no all, companies are working to mitigate the impacts of mining on chimpanzees. Chimpanzees can be found throughout Guinée Maritime, but some priority areas for their protection include sites in Télémélé, the border area with Guinea-Bissau and the border area with Sierra Leone.
Photograph by Catherine Andre