Baby chimpanzee nestled in hr mother's arms
Fanghaci, nestled in her mother’s arms. She is the first western chimp to be born in the Bossou Forest in nearly a decade, on November 14, 2020.

Baby Chimpanzee Reinvigorates Forest Community’s Conservation Efforts

By Destina Samani, Matthew Steil, Katie Moulton

The baby chimpanzee nestled in its mother’s arms was a joyful surprise for the Bossou Forest community of southwest Guinea. On November 14, 2020, residents witnessed the first birth of a western chimpanzee in the Bossou Forest in almost a decade. Community leader Boniface Zogbila named her Fanghaci, which means “take courage” in the Manon language. The birth of Fanghaci was a validation of community conservation efforts, and the meaning of her name was a reminder that the Bossou community must continue to fight for the survival of chimpanzees and their forest habitat.

The Bossou community has been working with several conservation partners to restore the health of a forest corridor stretching from the Bossou Hills to the Nimba Mountains on the border of Guinea and Liberia. Bossou community members have joined fire management programs and learned how to manage tree nurseries and out-plant seedlings. Those efforts have stopped forest fires from ravaging the corridor and have increased corridor tree cover. 

Image

A baby chimpanzee nestled in her mother’s arms
Fanghaci, nestled in her mother’s arms. She is the first western chimp to be born in the Bossou Forest in nearly a decade, on November 14, 2020.

The community currently has 26,000 native trees and 20,000 plants ready for outplanting from May 2021. They are committed to preventing what conservationists foresee as a growing stream of extinctions of West African primates and other wildlife. The restored corridor would allow chimpanzees to once again migrate and interbreed between the two locations and grow their declining populations, while also increasing the landscape carbon storage. 

In the early 1970s when scientists flocked to Bossou to study the primates’ use of tools and their changing health, there were 23 chimpanzees. When Fanghaci was born, only eight were left. The International Union for Conservation of Nature listed the chimpanzee subspecies, Pan troglodytes verus, as critically endangered in 2016.

Image

Boniface Zogbila
Boniface Zogbila, who descends from the founder of Bossou Village. He named the newborn chimpanzee and is an advocate for chimpanzee protection.

Credit: IREB

Boniface Zogbila wants Fanghaci’s name to inspire more births and open doors for the western chimpanzee. For 22 years, Boniface has been working to protect the chimpanzees by leading community outreach programs and acting as a tourist guide for the local state environmental institute, Institut de Recherche Environnementale de Bossou (IREB). In 2016, IREB demonstrated community commitment to the chimpanzees by allocating most of its earnings from tourism levies toward regenerating the corridor. 

“These chimpanzees are our ancestors according to our grandparents. Because of this, we love them and protect them,” said Boniface.

The U.S. Forest Service and USAID are working closely with the IREB, Acteurs pour le Dévéloppement Rurale and surrounding communities to collaboratively restore the Bossou-Nimba Mountain corridor. The conservation partners also support alternative livelihoods and skills building in fire management, agronomy and conservation. Their long-term strategy is to enable local communities to own and implement the solutions for regenerating the corridor. 

Country
Guinea
Strategic Objective
Integration
Topics
Biodiversity, Forestry, Food Security and Agriculture, Sustainable Land Management, Natural Resource Management, Sustainable Landscapes, Training
Region
Africa

Katie Moulton

Katie Moulton is a communications advisor for U.S. Forest Service International Programs. She also supports the USAID Environment Office in Nairobi.

More on the Blog

March marks the onset of the dry and hot season in Thailand. In the region, dry vegetation coupled with small human-made fires often result in uncontrolled forest fires. Agricultural burning and forest fires, including transboundary haze, contribute to high levels of pollution. Forest fires release particulate matter (PM) into the atmosphere including PM2.5 which are microscopic particles with a diameter of 2.5 microns or less – 30 times smaller than the diameter of the human hair.
Climate change and population growth are increasing concerns for global food security. Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have reached record high levels and the world is currently on track to overshoot the targets of the Paris Agreement, heightening the importance of developing technologies to help farmers adapt to climate change. This is especially urgent for the poorest and most vulnerable farmers, who already struggle to produce enough food.
Air pollution affects women and girls differently than men and boys. These differences include biological and socioeconomic disparities, and unequal gender norms that affect exposure type and frequency.