Chimpanzees in the Boé

The Regional Action Plan for the Conservation of Chimpanzees in West Africa (Kormos & Boesch, 2003 IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group) classifies the Fouta Djallon Highlands in Guinea and Guinea Bissau as an Exceptionally Important Priority Area for Chimpanzee conservation. The Boé area forms part of these highlands and recent research revealed a Chimpanzee population of no less than 700 individuals (estimation Schwarz Silva, 2007)! Every gallery forest has its own family of Chimpanzees.

Biodiversity hotspot

Altogether, the area is regarded as a biodiversity hotspot within the country and besides forests and savannah the area also has a potential Ramsar wetland named Lac Vendu Tcham (some 6000 ha). Besides its key species, the Chimpanzee, the area is also home to other endangered species like the African wild dog, Temminck’s red colobus and the African Elephant or species listed as vulnerable on the IUCN red list like the African lion, Hippo and Red-fronted Gazelle.

Threats to the chimpanzees of the Boé

Some of the more serious threats to chimpanzee population in the Boé are:

  • Increase of the human population. The population of the Boé increases rapidly, beyond carrying capacity. New villages are constructed in formerly ‘empty’ parts of the Boé. This leads to conversion of the natural landscape into agricultural fields and degradation of the surrounding area due to grazing, poaching etc.
  • Bauxite mining. Recent estimates indicate at least 100 million tons of Bauxite. Mining will lead to conversion of part of the area in a mining landscape. This will have a substantial impact on the biodiversity of the Boé, The Bauxite mine is planned to cover some 400 ha (source: www.bauxiteangola.co.ao).
  • Road construction. As part of regional development the government plans to construct an asphalt road right through the heart of the Boé. This implies the risks of an increased exploration of the natural resources of the Boé to other parts of Guinea Bissau (like wood and bushmeat) but will also lead to new settlements.