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The Research Department

In the year 2007, the then president of the Jane Goodall Institute Spain (JGIS) visited the region of Kédougou, the northernmost limit of the distribution area of the chimpanzees of the Pan troglodytes verus subspecies, which is critically endangered according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. This region is next to Guinea, a fact that increases the importance of the habitat conservation in order to ensure the connection between the chimpanzee groups in the area. It was in Dindéfélo, a small village in the region, where the Jane Goodall Institute Spain established its headquarters to develop its conservation, research, sustainable development and educational programmes.

The research work of the Jane Goodall Institute started in 2009 when primatologist Liliana Pacheco settled in Dindéfélo. The prospects of different possible research locations included Guinea and another rural community, Goumbambere, adjacent to Dindéfélo. All this was possible thanks to different international, national and local entities that supported the project from the very beginning.

In March 2012 five members of the Roots&Shoots Madrid group arrived in Senegal and joined the research department and the programme in order to work in the new sites. Little by little, the Jane Goodall Institute Research and Conservation team started growing, based on this first group of researchers and volunteers.

Studies done by the JGIS in Senegal and Guinea

The research programme developed since 2009 has accompanied the conservation activities. The department focuses on the ecological monitoring of the chimpanzee groups in the Dindéfélo Community Nature Reserve (RNCD) and on the prospection of other areas for the implementation of the programme and the conservation of chimpanzee habitat. The research and development activities were centred on the ecological characterization and the socioeconomic study for the establishment of the RNCD, both activities having been financed by the Fundación Biodiversidad and Wula Nafaa/USAID.

Subsequently, and thanks to the support given by Fundación Zoo de Barcelona through the PRIC grant, the Research Department has carried out different chimpanzee censuses and studies in the RNCD (i.e., a study of human/chimpanzee conflict), always bearing in mind and applying the best practices for field research and conflict that were established by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Furthermore, since the chimpanzee population in the Dindéfélo Community Nature Reserve shares habitat with groups in Guinea, and since JGI has the objective of increasing the protection of this chimpanzee subspecies (Pan troglodytes verus), the JGI in Senegal carried out an ecological characterization, a chimpanzee census and a socioeconomic study in the Subprefecture of Lebekere (Guinea), thanks to EAZA’s funding.

Other projects have been developed with the support of the Copito de Nieve (Snowflake) research grant by the Fundación Zoo de Barcelona, a project that has been useful to evaluate the impact of tourism on the behaviour of chimpanzees in Dindéfélo. Also, the Research Department has launched a study of the chimpanzee microbiome, in collaboration with IRSI (AIDS Research Institute in Barcelona).

To support the work of the main sites in the Reserve, a study of chimpanzee social networks in the RNCD was developed in collaboration with the University of Girona; a study about laterality in chimpanzees (PANLAT) was carried out through the use of camera traps in collaboration with the Mona Foundation; and other studies were developed about the nesting patterns of the Pan troglodytes verus subspecies in the RNCD and its surrounding areas.


Studies in collaboration with researchers from Oxford Brookes University and the University of Oslo were presented at the European Federation for Primatology meeting in France (August 2017). Three other studies carried out in the RNCD were presented at the VI Iberian Primatological Conference (October 2017). Fundacion Bioparc has also supported research & conservation activities in adjacent areas to identify and protect chimpanzee habitat.

Since 2016, after an agreement between JGI Spain and the Department of Evolutionary Anthropology of the Max Planck Institute in Germany, the JGI Research Department was in charge of collecting detailed data for an important comparative study about the diverse ecological and ethological aspects of chimpanzee populations all over Africa, which included tool, isotope, genetic, diet, urine and pathogen samples, as well as a grid of camera traps around the Dindéfélo Community Nature Reserve. See some of the articles published at the bottom of this page


New chimpanzee censuses and conflict studies are carried out to continue to assess the conservation status of the species in the area and, in collaboration with different experts and universities, the Research department has also carried out studies on the rich fauna and flora in the area (see some published studies below). Also, members of the JGI Research Department participate in biomonitoring surveys including chimpanzee populations in the Niokolo Koba National Park every year. 

Thanks to all the hard work carried out since 2009, the Research Department has managed to inform the Conservation Department in order to make joint decisions with the RNCD Managing Committee regarding the protection of this unique chimpanzee habitat, while attending to the community’s needs.  


The field work developed by the volunteers in the north of Guinea managed to find an unknown population of king colobus (Colobuspolykomos), included in the UICN Red List as "vulnerable", as long as its globaly threatened and decreasing. The king colobus habitat goes along a narrow strip from Ivory Coast to Guinea-Bissau, but the north limit was inaccurate. Now, thanks to the JGI, it has been proved that this colobus keeps some populations in the north of Guinea, even though their situation is delicated while the forest habitat is gradually decreasing. The results of this study have been published in the vol.13 of the African Primates magazine.

Use of new technologies


​The JGI Research Department in Senegal and Guinea carries out its activities with the aid of new technologies, which facilitate fieldwork as well as the data systematization for the subsequent studies. The data is collected in every trip to the field with mobile phones (Rumbo) that directly systematize all the information and, afterwards, the research team enters the data in the SMART program for its management and analysis.


The JGI team, consisting of Senegalese field assistants and Spanish research assistants, have been trained to use these and other devices needed to perform all the research activity. The JGI in Senegal has collected photos and videos from trap cameras and photographic cameras with large zoom, and also 4k NatGeo Action Cameras donated by Bresser. Currently, a DJI Mavic Pro drone donated by FNAC is also in use.The equipment, phones and computers are charged with solar panels purchased for the main sites, and also with “Waka-Waka” portable solar chargers donated by the JGI Netherlands.

Volunteering in the Research Department

Check conditions in the following file: download PDF in English

​​Published scientific papers​

You can read the full list of publications here.

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