Maegan Fitzgerald: "Using emerging technology to conserve chimpanzees and biodiversity in the Nimba Mountains, Guinea"
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Talk abstract: Maegan Fitzgerald, a Ph.D. candidate at the Wildlife Research Center at Kyoto University, focuses her studies on identifying sustainable ways to balance wildlife conservation with socioeconomic development in and around the Nimba Mountains of Guinea. Bossou, Guinea is famous for the chimpanzee community that inhabits its hillsides. With a unique and impressive behavioural repertoire (nut-cracking, algae scooping, ant dipping, pestle pounding, strategic road-crossings, etc.), these habituated chimpanzees have attracted researchers and tourists from all over the world. Yet, only 6 km away in the Nimba Mountains, the picture is starkly different. Other than a handful of short surveys, more permanent research activities did not begin until 2003 and the steep mountainous terrain has allowed these chimpanzees to remain relatively unhabituated. Since then, research has focused on a 30km 2 area of the mountains and discovered that there are over 100 chimpanzees within this study site and more beyond it. Additionally, their behavioural repertoire is quite different from chimpanzees in Bossou. These discoveries have primarily come, not through direct observations, but through finding traces such as fecal matter, nests, and feeding remains. As new technologies such as motion-triggered cameras, remote-sensing, and modeling have become more affordable and available, it has allowed the research in Nimba to better understand and better protect chimpanzees. Maegan will discuss some of the ways these tools are currently being used to create a larger knowledge base aimed at conserving not only chimpanzee but overall biodiversity in the Nimba Mountains.