Methods & Survey Sites

The primary goal of this project is to map the distribution and relative population density of Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzees throughout a total of nine study sites in the NWC (see the sites on the map below).

Chimpanzee Nest

Nest density estimates will be used as a proxy for relative chimpanzee population density. Nest counting is widely considered to be the best method for estimating chimpanzee population density (Balcomb et al., 2000; Kühl et al., 2008; White & Edwards, 2000) since each weaned chimpanzee generally builds one new nest every night.

Each study site will be surveyed by a team of at least two observers using reconnaissance (recce) walks. Recce walks are similar to transects except that instead of following a straight line, observers follow the paths of least resistance. We prefer this technique over the transect method because establishing transects would involve damaging the already quite disturbed natural habitats of the NWC. Moreover, transects are difficult to set in mountainous habitats (Doumbé, 2013).

Three teams will be collecting data from October 2014 to April 2015. The teams will be composed of one team leader and two field assistants. The team leaders will be Osiris A. DOUMBE, Simon J TAPPER and David ACHOMOCHI. The field assistants will be local villagers, chosen for their skills in animal tracking and expertise in the forest.


North-West Region of Cameroon

North-West Region of Cameroon with study sites (Batomo was not included to lighten the map)




Ntem Forest/Perrine Odier

Ntem Forest/Perrine ODIER©


Bafut-Ngemba Forest Reserve (>1,500ha)

Forming the most southern part of the Tubah-Awing complex and the Bamenda Highlands, the Bafut-Ngemba reserve (~altitude 2,100m) includes the Awing Lake. The Bafut-Ngemba area is a priority survey site for Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzees (Morgan et al., 2011).

Bali-Ngemba Forest Reserve (1,200ha)

The Bali-Ngemba Forest Reserve (altitude 1,340-2,100m) is situated in the South-West sector of the Bamenda Highlands.


Batomo Forest (~500ha)

The Batomo forest is a fragmented forest located in the Menchum division, by the Benakum council, in the North-West of Bamenda. Romanus Ikfuingei from WCS-South-West Cameroon mentionned the presence of chimpanzees in this forest within the last decade. {not on the map}


Benakuma Lake (~300ha)

The Benakuma Lake is located on the North-West of Wum. This large lake situated at 600-800m of altitude is surrounded by forest.


Fungom Forest Reserve (~50,000ha)

The Fungom Forest Reserve is the largest forested area of the North-West region of Cameroon. It is a priority survey site for Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzees (Morgan et al., 2011).


Kom-Wum Forest (17,000ha)

The Kom-Wum Forest Reserve is predicted to have the largest population density of chimpanzees in the region. It has been described as an exceptional priority conservation site for Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzees (Morgan et al., 2011). This former forest reserve (recently turned to the councils of Fundong and Wum) lies between 500 and 1,500m.


Mbembe Forest Reserve (47,000ha)

Bordering Nigeria, the Mbembe Forest Reserve lies on the edge of the northern part of the Bamenda Highlands. Located at an altitude of 259-1,372m, it is an important priority conservation site for Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzees (Morgan et al., 2011).


Mbi Crater Faunal Reserve (334ha)

Located east of the Babanki-Forest in the Tubah-Awing complex (center of the Bamenda Highlands), this protected area  (altitude 1,600-2,100m) is recognized as an important area for endemic bird species and is a priority survey site for the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee (Morgan et al., 2011).


Ntem forest (500ha)

A small population of chimpanzees has been informally reported to inhabit the Ntem forest (Morgan et al., 2011). This set of forested patches is comparable in size to the Babanki-Finge forest and is located 145km North-East of Bamenda, at about 1000m of altitude.




Balcomb SR., Chapman CA. and Wrangham RW. (2000) Relationship Between Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) Density and Large, Fleshy-Fruit Tree Density: Conservation Implications. American Journal of Primatology. 51: 197-203.

Doumbé OA. (2013) Habitat Mapping of the Babanki-Finge Forest, and Survey on the Rarest Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes ellioti) in the Bamenda Highlands, North-West Cameroon. Master's of Research Dissertation: University of Roehampton, London, UK.

Kühl H., Maisels F., Ancrenaz M. and Williamson EA. (2008) Best Practice Guidelines for Surveys and Monitoring of Great Ape Populations. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group (PSG). 32 pp.

Morgan B. et al. (2011) Regional Action Plan for the Conservation of The Nigeria-Cameroon Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes ellioti). IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group and Zoological Society of San Diego, CA, USA.

White L. and Edwards A. (2000) Methods for Assessing the Status of Animal Populations. In: White L. and Edwards A. (eds) (2000) Conservation Research in the African Rain Forests: a Technical Handbook. New York: The Wildlife Conservation Society. pp.218-268.

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