A brief introduction to who we are, where we work, and what we do:
Where do we work?
Western Tanzania comprises one of the driest, most open and seasonal habitats where chimpanzees live: a mosaic landscape dominated by miombo woodland and interspersed with thin strips of gallery forest, swamps, and wooded grasslands.
Although “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), the name is known more in Tanzania for the Ugalla Game Reserve, which is geographically removed from chimpanzee-country, and is administratively separate.
Since the 1970s, multiple researcher teams have surveyed for chimpanzees across Ugalla, itself a 3300km2 area. Our long-term research site is based within this region, in the Issa Valley (see map). Other study populations of chimpanzees in the region include those in Gombe and also Mahale Mountains National Park, both along Lake Tanganyika. Since 2011, we also monitor chimpanzee sub-populations and their habitat in numerous other areas within the Greater Mahale Ecosystem (GME).
To help answer questions about Issa chimpanzees, sympatric wildlife, and the threats facing western Tanzania forests, we collaborate closely with researchers across the world, local and national government institutions, as well as non-governmental conservation organisations working in western Tanzania.
Some of the primates that we study, 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.
The Issa Valley 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.
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…
After 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