About us

A brief introduction to who we are, where we work, and (some of!) what we do…

Where do we work?


Map of western Tanzania, with the GME outlined in red, encompassing the Masitu-Ugalla Ecosystem (MUE) as well, in addition to some of the areas that we have targeted in our chimpanzee surveys (map: N. Bonnin)

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. 

Our long-term research site is based within this western 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), hence the name for our project, reflecting this larger geographical area that we monitor.

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. 

Please contact us with questions, comments, or suggestions regarding our work and consider supporting our efforts!

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.

Watch here!


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-GMERC 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