Project #10140

Conserving Senegal's Chimpanzees through Education

by Neighbor Ape
Orphan chimp Toto on his way to Guinea sanctuary
Orphan chimp Toto on his way to Guinea sanctuary

A new school year has started again in Senegal, and Neighbor Ape is supporting several school children in Kedougou and two young women in business school in Dakar.

Since the village of Djendji still has school supplies in hands from our gifts of previous years, we are focusing our efforts on making plans to build and help initially stock a pharmacy there - more info on that coming within the next few months!

Perhaps the biggest news item is that orphan chimpanzee Toto has finally been sent to his new sanctuary home at the Chimpanzee Conservation Centre in Guinea. I'm including a photo of Toto in his travel cage - the first time he's had to be in a cage, but he adjusted well and is out of it now. We have word he is acclimating well and should get photos soon! One of his "Dads", Dondo Kante, will be there with him awhile, helping him adjust.

Neighbor Ape was also able to donate one third of the funds needed to build new enclosures for Toto and his new group, while Friends of Animals provided the rest. We also financed half of his moving costs and wages for a new caretaker at the CCC for several months. We are especially grateful to Fongoli Savanna Chimpanzee project personnel, D. Kante, J. Keita and M. Sadiahko for taking care of Toto while juggling their usual duties, especially over the last year when Neighbor Ape took over all financing responsibilities for Toto.  A new donor provided a large portion of the funds that were used to build new structures for Toto and his new family, as well.

Neighbor Ape will continue to support Toto via gifts to the CCC, even after his human Dad returns. You can also find info on the CCC Facebook page if you want to sponsor Toto directly via their fundraising page.

In other news, artisanal and corporate gold mining is still a big threat to chimpanzees in Senegal, but we are collaborating with other stakeholders in Senegal to come up with solutions. We can hopefully share some of those plans here over the course of the next year!

Thank you for your generous support from Neighbor Ape, the people of the Fongoli and Kedougou communities, the Fongoli chimpanzees and orphan Toto! 

Fongoli chimpanzee
Fongoli chimpanzee 'Mike'

Neighbor Ape continues to support a number of children by helping pay for their school fees and/or their school books and other supplies. The school year in Senegal ends in June, just in time for farming season, so students have a few more months to go. 

Today, I wanted to give you an update on the Fongoli chimps, as they are the reason we came to Senegal, and Neighbor Ape's programs work toward a goal of conserving chimps in conjunction with providing for the welfare of the people they live alongside in Senegal.

Mining for gold continues in Senegal, and corporate-level mining is scheduled to increase. Artisinal level mining is more of an urgent concern for the chimpanzees in this country, however, including the Fongoli chimpanzees. This is where individuals dig for gold by hand or with small machinery. In addition to habitat disturbance, the influx of thousands of people from neighboring countries increases the risk of disease transmission between humans and chimpanzees, and some miners use mercury to process gold-bearing soils, which is a health risk for humans and chimpanzees alike. 

Iowa State University students (Kelly Boyer-Ontl) and former students (Dr. Stacy Lindshield & Dr. Todd Ontl) are currently working on research to investigate the contamination levels of soils and water in the Fongoli area as well as other locales in Senegal where chimpanzees reside. Kelly is also researching the effects that the artisinal mines in the Fongoli chimps' home range have had on their movement and other activity patterns over the past decade. With these findings, primatologists can work with conservations NGOs, including Neighbor Ape, and governmental agencies in Senegal to better protect chimpanzees in this country. 

Presenting school supplies in Djendji village 2015
Presenting school supplies in Djendji village 2015

We have a few items of news to share here at Neighbor Ape! Pharmacy school student Anna successfully completed her program and is completing her residency at the Acacia Pharmacy in Dakar. She is pictured here proudly holding her diploma!

We delivered our annual gift of school supplies to Djendji village, also shown here in a photo. The Fongoli chimpanzees have been spending a lot of time around Djendji village this month, enjoying the Cissus fruit and other foods that grow in fallow fields that are regenerating into savanna woodland. One of the reasons they are comfortable with spending so much time in close proximity to the village (sometimes within 20 meters of a field or dirt track) is that Djendji has been here for more than 100 years, and the Diahanke people that live in the village do not hunt or otherwise harm the chimpanzees. 

Finally, we are sponsoring several students at various levels in schools in Kedougou and Dakar. We are sponsoring two elementary school children (a boy and a girl) in Dakar and two pre-high school students (2 young men) in Kedougou.

Our educational programs are one of the main areas of focus at Neighbor Ape, and we could not provide such valuable opportunities for young people without your continued support. Thank you so much!

Anna (& daughter) with her pharmacy school diploma
Anna (& daughter) with her pharmacy school diploma
Chimps drink at a mining excavation.
Chimps drink at a mining excavation.

The school year in Senegal has just wrapped up, and students have finished their exams and are off on "vacance" until next October. The OBARAR dormitory housed about 15 students, fewer than last year, but a good number nonetheless. We are hoping to have more students in the dorm next year again.

In terms of our education projects, we again contributed a year's worth of supplies to the village of Djendji's school. This has been one of our longest traditions at Neighbor Ape, and it is fitting that Djendji is also the village that the chimpanzees in the area have been living near for the longest period of time - Djendji village was established over 100 years ago. 

Neighbor Ape continues to support Kedougou area children in various schools in the area, including covering the room and board for several students at the OBARAR dormitory. These students come from Kedougou as well as the Fongoli area, including the Bassari village of Petit Oubadji. We also help fund girls who attend a private school in Tambacounda as well as a young boy attending school in Dakar. 

Finally, we hope to reinstate our conservation-education workshops in late 2015 or in 2016. In discussions with the local branch of the Forestry Department of Senegal, we have made plans to further our reach in terms of our 3-pronged approach to educating people about chimpanzees. After an informational presentation by Project Manager Dondo Kante, he returns and has informal conversations with villagers over tea (Dondo drinks lots of tea at this time!) and, ultimately, he returns to give a more conservation-oriented presentation. He stresses the fact that many of the problems chimpanzees face are the same ones local people also face, such as health concerns brought about by the use of mercury in gold mining (see photo of Fongoli chimps drinking at a mining site where water has collected during the dry season when water is scarce) and forest destruction (see photo of Fongoli chimps examining a logger's camp). 

With the generous gifts of donors, we are secure in being able to continue our education-related programs, which also serve to assist in our efforts to conserve chimpanzees in Senegal. 

Fongoli chimps examine tree cut for boards.
Fongoli chimps examine tree cut for boards.
Sponsored student (Nadege) with parents
Sponsored student (Nadege) with parents

Celebrating the New Year is a big event in Senegal, and it looks like this year will be a great one for Neighbor Ape because of wonderful donors and the amazing people that we work with!

With the new dormitory up and running, Neighbor Ape is thinking about future projects - perhaps the dispensary in Djendji village can be established this year! But, we are also happy to say that we are supporting more students than ever - in various venues!

We support relatively few students, but we try to afford particular students some of the best opportunities available to them in terms of education. This year, we are supporting returning students in Kedougou public high school (Allamouta) and private schools (Nadege, Alex), a private Tambacounda boarding school for young women (Katherine, Natalie), and a Dakar elementary school (Phillipe). We are also supporting three students that live in Bandafassi village at the OBARAR dormitory that Neighbor Ape helped build so that they can live in Kedougou and attend school there.

Even though public school is technically free in Senegal, most students cannot afford school supplies or boarding if they live outside of towns like Kedougou, and schools in towns are significantly better in terms of the quality of education in most circumstances. Neighbor Ape helps offset costs for children attending public schools and helps pay school fees for students attending private schools. We've also visited these various schools and are happy to report that all of our students are often involved in working on homework at times when we've made home visits! (Though they might not be as happy about that!)

We would like to again thank all our donors and wish everyone the best for the New Year - we hope that 2015 will bring some exciting developments all around!


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Organization Information

Neighbor Ape

Location: Ames, Iowa - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Jill Pruetz
Ames, IA United States
$10,660 raised of $11,975 goal
318 donations
$1,315 to go
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