With the benefit of your support, we can boost our efforts and continue to implement our vital chimpanzee conservation programmes.

Chimpanzee Conservation

Poaching for bushmeat, the illegal wildlife trade, habitat loss and disease are all putting wild chimpanzees at risk of extinction.

Together with our partners, Born Free is working to safeguard wild chimpanzees and their habitat in Cameroon and Uganda.






LOCATION: Dja Biosphere Reserve (DBR), East Region, Cameroon, Central Africa.

GOAL:  To increase the abundance of rare central chimpanzees and western lowland gorillas in a great ape conservation priority area. To enable local people and wildlife to coexist.

THREATS: The DBR is home to many rural communities such as the Badjoue and the Bantu. These communities are classed as “poor” or “extreme poor”, and their traditional livelihoods rely on unsustainable and damaging activities such as bushmeat hunting and slash-and-burn farming.

Bushmeat hunting for local consumption and sale is widespread, as well as poaching for the illegal wildlife trade. Activities that harm the forest, like slash-and-burn farming, further threaten chimpanzees and gorillas.

ACTIONS: The Guardians of Dja programme currently operates in six villages in the north-eastern periphery of the Dja Biosphere Reserve.

A central chimpanzee in the forest of the Dja reserve

Central Chimpanzee in the Dja © MPI-EVA PanAf

Born Free support staff to deliver training courses in sustainable agroforestry practices (combining agriculture with trees), with students empowered to develop a reliable trade in cocoa and pepper. Farmers are encouraged to re-use previously farmed land (fallows) using composting to bring nutrients back to the soil. The programme also provides primary education at a school which can teach 100 pupils per year. Students at the school receive ten hours of conservation lessons a week and the staff receive conservation training.

The Guardians of Dja programme supports at least two anti-poaching patrols each year, and has also recruited 12 ‘Great Ape Guardians’ from local communities. These guardians patrol, gather information on bushmeat hunting and help communities to understand the importance of great ape conservation.

Finally, the programme aims to actively restore degraded areas of forest to benefit great apes, and other wildlife. Several nurseries have been set up to provide a mix of native trees and food crop trees to reforest these areas.




LOCATION: Hoima District, Uganda, East Africa.

GOAL: To conserve highly threatened eastern chimpanzees living in the unprotected Budongo-Bugoma corridor by protecting habitats and working with local communities.

THREATS: In western Uganda’s Hoima District, wild eastern chimpanzees survive in shrinking fragments of forest around villages. These small forests, which occur along rivers and swamps, are owned by local households and have no formal protection. The region acts as a corridor linking two chimpanzee populations in the protected Budongo and Bugoma Forest Reserves. Each are home to more than 500 chimpanzees.

In the Hoima corridor, about 300 eastern chimpanzees live in an unprotected habitat. These chimpanzees are under threat from:

  • habitat loss due to widespread logging and farmland conversion
  • infrastructure development, including an oil pipeline
  • road upgrades
  • pathogen exposure
  • human-chimpanzee conflict, which can cause persecution and retaliatory killings of chimpanzees

ACTIONS: The Bulindi Chimpanzee & Community Project was established in 2014 in response to an urgent situation in an unprotected area where chimpanzees lived.

Juvenile chimpanzee eating a maize cob

Juvenile chimpanzee eating a maize cob © Matthew McLennan, BCCP

The immediate goal of the project was to preserve chimpanzee habitat in Bulindi by halting deforestation. The broader goal of the project is to conserve chimpanzees throughout Hoima and enable people and chimpanzees to coexist.

With support from Born Free, BCCP:

  • monitors local chimpanzee populations
  • helps local people by providing alternatives to deforestation
  • invests in children’s education
  • supports alternative livelihoods
  • established an extensive tree planting program
  • improves the tolerance of local communities to chimpanzees.

Furthermore, in the Hoima corridor, BCCP has planted both indigenous trees to help restore the forest habitat, and faster growing varieties to provide alternative wood and income sources for the community. Educational conservation lessons in schools have increased the pupils’ environmental knowledge and improved their attitude towards the chimpanzees and their habitat.


Close up of a chimpanzee in a tree looking at the camera

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