The release of wild or captive-bred mammals within their historical ranges typically aims to reestablish populations in areas where they have become extinct or extirpated, to reinforce natural populations, or to resolve human–wildlife conflicts. Such programs, which also typically in parallel help foster the protection of the release site, concern a wide range of endangered mammalian species, including our closest living relatives: chimpanzees. In June 2008, the Chimpanzee Conservation Center (CCC), which is located in the High Niger National Park (HNNP) in Guinea, released a group of 12 chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) comprised of 6 females and 6 males (8–20 yr old). The selected release site lies 32 km from the sanctuary in the Mafou, a core area of HNNP where wild chimpanzees are also known to occur. The purpose of this release was therefore to reinforce the natural chimpanzee population within the Mafou core area and to promote the protection of the HNNP. Nearly 2 yr postrelease, 9 chimpanzees still remain free-living. Two thirds of the release chimpanzees were equipped with VHF-GPS store-on-board tracking collars. We used data from retrieved collars to explore the release chimpanzees’ habitat use, individual day range, and core area use (50% and 80%) during the first year of the release. Males traveled significantly further than females. Although minimum day range did not differ between the sexes or vary seasonally, some release males were active for longer during the day than the females. Males also ranged over larger areas and used a wider network of core areas than the females. Habitat use was similar to that recorded in wild chimpanzees in the HNNP. As of September 2010, 2 males and 3 females form a group at the release site. Two of these females gave birth to healthy offspring respectively 16 and 20 mo postrelease. Another female successfully immigrated into a wild chimpanzee community. We suggest that the success of this chimpanzee release can be attributed to the CCC’s lengthy rehabilitation process and the savanna-mosaic habitat of the HNNP. This release demonstrates that under special socioecological circumstances, the release of wild-born adult chimpanzees of both sexes is a viable strategy, which can also function as an effective conservation tool.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Baldwin, P. J., McGrew, W. C., & Tutin, C. E. G. (1982). Wide ranging chimpanzees at Mt. Assirik, Senegal. International Journal of Primatology, 3(4), 367–385.
Bates, L. A., & Byrne, R. W. (2009). Sex differences in the movement patterns of free-ranging chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii): Foraging and border checking. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 64(2), 247–255.
Beck, B. (2010). Chimpanzee orphans: Sanctuaries, reintroduction and cognition. In E. V. R. Lonsdorf, S. & T. Matsuzawa, T. (Eds.), Understanding chimpanzees: The mind of the chimpanzee. Chicago: Chicago University Press.
Beck, B., Walkup, K., Rodrigues, M., Unwin, S., Travis, D., & Stoinski, T. (2007). Best practice guidelines for the reintroduction of Great Apes. Gland: SSC Primate Specialist Group of the World Conservation Union.
Boesch, C., & Boesch, H. (1989). Hunting behavior of wild chimpanzees in the Taï National Park. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 78, 547–573.
Boesch, C., & Boesch-Achermann, H. (2000). The chimpanzees of the Taï Forest. New York: Oxford University Press.
Boesch, C., Crockford, C., Herbinger, I., Wittig, R., Moebius, Y., & Normand, E. (2008). Intergroup conflicts among chimpanzees in Tai National Park: Lethal violence and the female perspective. American Journal of Primatology, 70(6), 519–532.
Borner, M. (1985). The rehabilitated chimpanzees of Rubondo Island. Oryx, 19, 151–154.
Brewer, S. M. (1978). The chimpanzees of Mt Assirik. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
Brugiere, D., & Magassouba, B. (2003). Mammalian diversity in the National Park of Upper Niger, Republic of Guinea-an update. Oryx, 37, 19–19.
Brugiere, D., & Kormos, R. (2009). Review of the protected area network in Guinea, West Africa, and recommendations for new sites for biodiversity conservation. Biodiversity and Conservation, 18(4), 847–868.
Brugiere, D., Dia, M., Diakite, S., Gbansara, M., Mamy, M., Saliou, B., et al. (2005). Large- and medium-sized ungulates in the Haut Niger National Park, Republic of Guinea: population changes 1997–2002. Oryx, 39(1), 50–55.
Butynski, T. M. (2001). Africa’s great apes. In B. Beck, T. S. Stoinski, M. Hutchins, T. L. Maple, B. Norton, A. Rowan, E. F. Stevens, & A. Arluke (Eds.), Great apes and humans: The ethics of coexistence (pp. 3–56). Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press.
Campbell, G., Kuehl, H., N’Goran Kouame, P., & Boesch, C. (2008). Alarming decline of West African chimpanzees in Cote d’Ivoire. Current Biology, 18(19), R903–R904.
Carter, J. (2003). Orphan chimpanzees in West Africa: Experiences and prospects for viability in chimpanzee rehabilitation. In R. Kormos, C. Boesch, M. I. Bakarr, & T. Butynski (Eds.), West African chimpanzees. Status survey and conservation action plan (pp. 157–168). Gland: IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group. IUCN.
Chapman, C. A., & Wrangham, R. W. (1993). Range use of the forest chimpanzees of Kibale—implications for the understanding of chimpanzee social-organization. American Journal of Primatology, 31(4), 263–273.
Colin, C. (2001). Etude d’un projet de conservation d’une sous-espèce de chimpanzés (Pan troglodytes verus), menacée d’extinction, en République de Guinée. Lyon: Ecole Veterinaire.
Doran, D. (1997). Influence of seasonality on activity patterns, feeding behavior, ranging, and grouping patterns in Tai chimpanzees. International Journal of Primatology, 18(2), 183–206.
Emery-Thompson, M., Jones, J. H., Pusey, A. E., Brewer-Marsden, S., Goodall, J., Marsden, D., et al. (2007). Aging and fertility patterns in wild chimpanzees provide insights into the evolution of menopause. Current Biology, 17(24), 2150–2156.
Farmer, K. H. (2002). Pan-African sanctuary alliance: status and range of activities for great ape conservation. American Journal of Primatology, 58(3), 117–132.
Farmer, K. H., Buchanan-Smith, H. M., & Jamart, A. (2006). Behavioral adaptation of Pan troglodytes troglodytes. International Journal of Primatology, 27(3), 747–765.
Faust, L., Beck, B., & Cress, D. (2007). Estimating future capacity needs for PASA sanctuary ape populations. Paper presented at the Annual Managers Meeting of the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance, Kigali, Rwanda.
Fleury-Brugiere, M.-C., & Brugiere, D. (2002). Estimation de la population et analyse du comportement nidificateur des chimpanzés dans la zone intégralement protégée Mafou du Parc National du Haut-Niger. Faranah: Report on the Parc National du Haut-Niger/AGIR project.
Fleury-Brugiere, M. C., & Brugiere, D. (2010). High population density of Pan troglodytes verus in the Haut Niger National Park, Republic of Guinea: Implications for local and regional conservation. International Journal of Primatology, 31, 383–392.
Ghobrial, L., Lankester, F., Kiyang, J. A., Akih, A. E., de Vries, S., Fotso, R., et al. (2010). Tracing the origins of rescued chimpanzees reveals widespread chimpanzee hunting in Cameroon. BMC Ecology. Retrieved from http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472–6785/10/2.
Goodall, J. (1986). The chimpanzees of Gombe. Cambridge: Belknap Press.
Goossens, B., Setchell, J. M., Tchidongo, E., Dilambaka, E., Vidal, C., Ancrenaz, A., et al. (2005). Survival, interactions with conspecifics and reproduction in 37 chimpanzees released into the wild. Biological Conservation, 123(4), 461–475.
Hashimoto, C. (1995). Population census of the chimpanzees in the Kalinzu Forest, Uganda: Comparison between methods with nest counts. Primates, 436(4), 477–488.
Humle, T., Deniau, C., Lapeyre, V., Colin, C., & T., R. (in review). Diurnal primates and large- and medium-sized ungulates in the Haut Niger National Park, Republic of Guinea: Update on status, abundance and threats. Oryx.
IUCN. (2008). IUCN red list of threatened species. In IUCN (Ed.). Switzerland: Gland.
Kano, T. (1972). Distribution and adaptation of the chimpanzee on the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika. Kyoto University African Studies, 7, 37–129.
Kormos, R., Humle, T., Brugière, D., Fleury-Brugière, M.-C., Matsuzawa, T., Sugiyama, Y., et al. (2003). Status surveys and recommendations: Country reports: The Republic of Guinea. In R. Kormos, C. Boesch, B. M.I. & T. M. Butynski (Eds.), Status survey and conservation action plan: West African chimpanzees (pp. 63–76). Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK: IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group.
Lachowski, H. (1996). Guidelines for the use of digital imagery for vegetation mapping. Darby: Diane Publishing Co.
Le Hellaye, Y., Goossens, B., Jamart, A., & Curtis, D. J. (2010). Acquisition of fission-fusion social organization in a chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes troglodytes) community released into the wild. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 64(3), 349–360.
Lucas, D. C. (2004). Chimpanzee habitat survey and threat assessment in and around the Kafama and N'Dama forests, Guinea, West Africa. Study sponsored by USAID and commissioned by Project Primate Incorporated (PPI) and the Chimpanzee Conservation Center (CCC) in association with the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA).
Montfort, A., & Jansen, V. (1993). Projet de Gestion des Ressources Naturelles des Forets Classees de la Mafou et de l’Amana. Rome, Italy: Projet Faranah 1 et Kouroussa 1. Agriconsulting-Agroprogress Int.o. Document Number)
Moore, J. (1992). "Savanna" chimpanzees. In T. Nishida, W. C. McGrew, P. Marler, et al. (Eds.), Topics in primatology, Vol. 1: Human origins (pp. 99–118). Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press.
Moscovice, L. R., Issa, M. H., Petrzelkova, K. J., Keuler, N. S., Snowdon, C. T., & Huffman, M. A. (2007). Fruit availability, chimpanzee diet, and grouping patterns on Rubondo Island, Tanzania. American Journal of Primatology, 69(5), 487–502.
Newton-Fisher, N. E. (2002). Ranging patterns of male chimpanzees in the Budongo Forest, Uganda: Range structure and individual differences. In C. S. Harcourt & B. Sherwood (Eds.), New perspectives in primate evolution and behaviour (pp. 287–308). Otley: Westbury Academic.
Ogawa, H., Idani, G., Moore, J., Pintea, L., & Hernandez-Aguilar, A. (2007). Sleeping parties and nest distribution of chimpanzees in the savanna woodland, Ugalla, Tanzania. International Journal of Primatology, 28(6), 1397–1412.
Raballand, E. (2004). Proposal for the release of chimpanzees into the Parc National du Haut Niger, Guinea. Chimpanzee Conservation Center.
Seddon, P. J., Armstrong, D. P., & Maloney, R. F. (2007). Developing the science of reintroduction biology. Conservation Biology, 21(2), 303–312.
Teleki, G. (1989). Population status of wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and threats to survival. In P. G. Heltne & L. A. Marquardt (Eds.), Understanding chimpanzees (pp. 312–353). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Tutin, C. E. G., Ancrenaz, M., Paredes, J., Vacher-Vallas, M., Vidal, C., Goossens, B., et al. (2001). Conservation biologgy framework for the release of wild-born orphaned chimpanzees into the Conkouati Reserve, Congo. Conservation Biology, 15(5), 1247–1257.
Williams, J. M., Pusey, A. E., Carlis, J. V., Farm, B. P., & Goodall, J. (2002). Female competition and male territorial behaviour influence female chimpanzees’ ranging patterns. Animal Behaviour, 63, 347–360.
Wrangham, R. W., & Smuts, B. B. (1980). Sex differences in the behavioural ecology of chimpanzees in the Gombe National Park, Tanzania. Journal of Reproduction and Fertility, Supplement, 28(Supplement), 13–31.
Ziegler, S., Nikolaus, G., & Hutterer, R. (2002). High mammalian diversity in the newly established National Park of Upper Niger, Republic of Guinea. Oryx, 36(1), 73–80.
This study was conducted through the Chimpanzee Conservation Centre (CCC) with the assistance of CCC expatriate and local staff, as well as volunteers from Projet Primates France (PPF) and Project Primate Inc. (PPI), with financial support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (USFW) and Fauna and Flora International (FFI). The CCC also thanks Dr. Andrew Rowan and Dr. Geza Teleki for their advice and the Arcus Foundation, the Edith J. Goode Trust fund, the Fondation Brigitte Bardot, Fondation Le Pal Nature, IPPL-UK, IPPL-US, and the Tusk foundation for their financial support. We also thank Dr. Henk Niphuis at the Biomedical Primate Research Centre, Rijswijk, the Netherlands, for all the testing of serological samples; Dr. Wendi Bailey at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK, for her parasitological expertise; Planet Action for donating high-resolution satellite maps of HNNP and ArcGIS; Telonics for providing us with extra necessary software; and CLS (Collecte Localisation Satellites, Toulouse, France) and Dr. Scott Wilson from Chester Zoo, UK, for their logistical support. We also thank the 2 anonymous reviewers who have provided us with helpful comments and suggestions for improving this manuscript. Estelle Raballand is also deeply grateful to PASA for advice and help during the entire release process and the workshop hosted at Apenheul, the Netherlands, which led to the creation of a CCC-release working group (thank you to Dr. Marc Ancrenaz, Dr. Benoit Goossens, Mike Jordan, Frands Carlsen, Norm Rosen, and Dr. Benjamin Beck). We also thank Christine Sagno, director of the Direction Nationale des Eaux et Forêts, Mr. Aboubacar Oulare, director of the Direction Nationale de la Diversité Biologique et des Aires Protégées and the late Aliomou Diallo, Director of the HNNP. Dr. Tatyana Humle, as scientific advisor to the CCC, also thanks Dr. Mamby Keita, national director of the Direction Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique et Technologique and Mr. Aboubacar Oulare, national director of the Direction de la Diversité Biologique et des Aires Protégées, for granting permission to conduct research in the Haut Niger National Park (HNNP).
About this article
Cite this article
Humle, T., Colin, C., Laurans, M. et al. Group Release of Sanctuary Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) in the Haut Niger National Park, Guinea, West Africa: Ranging Patterns and Lessons So Far. Int J Primatol 32, 456–473 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10764-010-9482-7
- Chimpanzee conservation center
- Chimpanzee release
- Core area
- Day range
- Habitat use