Human-chimpanzee sympatry and interactions in Cantanhez National Park, Guinea-Bissau: current research and future directions

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Increasing human populations and the rapid conversion of forest to agricultural land increase the likelihood of interactions and conflict between humans and nonhuman primates. Understanding such interactions requires a broad cross-disciplinary approach that assesses the implications of sympatry for primate conservation and human social, cultural and economic needs. Although chimpanzees were declared extinct in Guinea-Bissau in 1988, recent reports estimate that between 600 and 1,000 individuals are currently present, with the largest population occupying the Cantanhez National Park (105,700 ha; northeast limit: 11°22′58″N,14°46′12″W; southwest limit: 11°2′18″N,15°15′58″W). These heavily fragmented coastal forests have been identified as one of seven priority areas in West Africa for urgent chimpanzee conservation efforts (Kormos et al. 2003. West African Chimpanzees. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN, Gland. 2003). Here we set the context for human-chimpanzee sympatry in Guinea-Bissau, and provide a platform from which further studies can expand. We review past findings that might affect current and future sympatric relationships, and integrate preliminary data on resource competition from one hitherto unstudied chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes verus) community inhabiting a forested-agricultural matrix in Caiquene and Cadique, central Cantanhez National Park. While local human cultural traditions provide a degree of tolerance and protection to chimpanzees in Cantanhez National Park, which is beneficial for long-term conservation initiatives, human-chimpanzee interactions have the potential to grow increasingly negative in character, especially as human populations expand and further pressure is exerted on the land.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-65
Number of pages8
JournalPrimate conservation : the newsletter and journal of the IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013


  • Human-chimpanzee interactions
  • Conflict
  • Resource competition
  • Guinea-Bissau


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