Primate occurrence across a human-impacted landscape in Guinea-Bissau and neighbouring regions in West Africa: using a systematic literature review to highlight the next conservation steps

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West African landscapes are largely characterised by complex agroforest mosaics. Although the West African forests are considered a nonhuman primate hotspot, knowledge on the distribution of many species is often lacking and out-of-date. Considering the fast-changing nature of the landscapes in this region, up-to-date information on primate occurrence is urgently needed, particularly of taxa such as colobines, which may be more sensitive to habitat modification than others. Understanding wildlife occurrence and mechanisms of persistence in these human-dominated landscapes is fundamental for developing effective conservation strategies.

In this paper, we aim to review current knowledge on the distribution of three threatened primates in Guinea-Bissau and neighbouring regions, highlighting research gaps and identifying priority research and conservation action. We conducted a systematic literature review of primate studies from 1976 to 2016 in Guinea-Bissau, southern Senegal and western Guinea (Boké Region). We mapped historical observation records of chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes verus), Temminck’s red colobus (Pilicolobus badius temminckii) and king colobus (Colobus polykomos), including our preliminary survey data from Dulombi, a newly established National Park (NP) in Guinea-Bissau.

We found 151 documents, including 87 journal articles, that contained field data on primates in this region. In Guinea-Bissau, nearly all studies focussed south of the Corubal River, including mainly Cantanhez, Cufada, and Boé NP’s. In Senegal, most of the data came from Fongoli and Niokolo-Koba NP. In Boké (Guinea) studies are few, with the most recent data coming from Sangarédi. In Dulombi NP we recorded eight primate species, including chimpanzees, red colobus and king colobus. Across the selected region, chimpanzees, red colobus and king colobus were reported in eleven, twelve and seven protected areas, respectively.

Our study demonstrates large geographical research gaps particularly for the two colobines. For the first time after more than two decades, we confirm the presence of red colobus and king colobus north of the Corubal River in Guinea-Bissau. The little information available from large parts of the red colobus range raises questions regarding levels of population fragmentation in this species, particularly in Casamance and across northern Guinea-Bissau. There are still no records demonstrating the occurrence of king colobus in Senegal, and the presence of a viable population in north-eastern Guinea-Bissau remains uncertain. While the occurrence of chimpanzees in Guinea-Bissau and Senegal is well documented, data from Boké (Guinea) are sparse and out-of-date. Our approach—the mapping of data gathered from a systematic literature review—allows us to provide recommendations for selecting future geographical survey locations and planning further research and conservation strategies in this region.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2018


  • King colobus
  • Endangered species
  • West Africa
  • Red colobus
  • Chimpanzee
  • Primate conservation
  • Wildlife surveys
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Senegal
  • Guinea


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