About the Ugalla Primate Project

A brief introduction to who we are, where we work, and what we do:

What and where is “Ugalla”?

The Ugalla region, located in western Tanzania (see map right), is dominated by open miombo woodland interspersed with small patches of riverine forest, swamp, and wooded grassland. Ugalla thus comprises one of the driest, most open and seasonal habitats where chimpanzees live. Ugalla is the name applied by Kano (1972) to the region between the Malagarasi River (to the north), the Ugalla River (to the east) and the Uvinza-Mpanda road (to the south/west). It covers ~ 3300 square km and researchers have centered their work at a variety of localities within Ugalla. The primary study site, however, lies overlooking the Issa Valley, highlighted in yellow on the map. Other study populations of chimpanzees in the region include those in Gombe and also Mahale Mountains National Park – both also highlighted in yellow. To help answer questions about Ugalla, the wildlife it hosts, and the threats faced by both the fauna and the habitat, we collaborate closely with researchers across the world, local and national government institutions, as well as non-governmental conservation organisations working in western Tanzania. For example, we are providing critical data on chimpanzee distribution and habitat prioritisation for village land-use planning across the region based on our results of a 15-month long survey across the Ecosystem from 2011-2012.

Please contact us with questions, comments, or suggestions regarding our work and consider supporting our efforts!

Some of the Ugalla primates, clockwise from top left: red colobus (credit: F. Stewart), chimpanzee (credit: Jan Hosek & Marian Polak),greater galago (credit: J. Moore), yellow baboon (credit: C. Johnson), redtail monkey (credit: C. Johnson)

Listen here! to Pant hooting Issa chimpanzees, recorded here by Jan Hosek and Marian Polak.

Ugalla is characterised by extreme seasonal variation. Specifically, in the dry season, grass fires sweep the landscape, burning undergrowth across 75% of the region, the miombo trees lose their leaves, and most rivers dry. In the wet season, grasses can reach 8ft and those same rivers can be uncrossable.

Watch here!

A large chimpanzee party passes and investigates a motion triggered camera!

It’s highly likely that missing digits and arms are a direct result of illegal poaching in the area. Make a donation and support a District Ranger-UPP led patrol to prevent more chimpanzees from falling victim!


…but not all is doom. This young male seems content to termite fish…


In almost four years of continuous monitoring with ~ 25 motion triggered cameras/month deployed, June2014 provided us only our SECOND encounter with a Serval (Felis serval). Striking!

…whilst July a possible, albeit brief, glimpse of greater galagos  (Otolemur crassicaudatus)

For more on Issa’s chimpanzees and all wildlife at Issa, see http://www.youtube.com/user/UgallaSokwe?feature=mhee