The Goualougo Triangle, nestled between two rivers in a Central African rain forest, is so remote that primate researchers who traveled 34 miles, mostly by foot, from the nearest village through dense forests and swampland to get there, have discovered a rare find: chimpanzees that have had very little or no contact at all with humans. The chimpanzees' behavior when first coming in contact with the researchers was a telltale sign of lack of human exposure -- the chimpanzees didn't run and hide.
Unlike chimpanzees in the zoo that seem to appreciate being the center of human attention, chimpanzees in the wild need to be habituated to the presence of humans, a process that can take several years. Dave Morgan, a field researcher with the Wildlife Conservation Society, Republic of Congo, and Crickette Sanz, a doctoral candidate in anthropology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, report their study of "Naive Encounters With Chimpanzees in the Goualougo Triangle" in the April 2003 issue of the International Journal of Primatology.
During two field seasons in the
Goualougo Triangle (February-December
1999 and June 2000-June 2001),
Morgan and Sanz encountered chimpanzees
on 218 different occasions, totaling
365 hours of d
Contact: Susan Killenberg McGinn
Washington University in St. Louis