The first-ever photos of a chimpanzee have been snapped inside Douala-Edea National Park, Cameroon by wildlife-monitoring camera-traps set up by conservation charity ZSL (Zoological Society of London).
In time for World Chimpanzee Day, the first photographic evidence of chimpanzees inside the park is especially exciting because it shows a mum carrying her baby – confirming the apes are breeding in the park. Before this image was taken, the presence of the species was only confirmed by track marks or dung samples. The team will now install more camera traps to better understand the number of individuals living in the park and their health.
The Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes ellioti) is classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. These chimps are at risk of extinction in the wild due to hunting and ongoing habitat loss caused by illegal timber exploitation, loss of land for farming, and bush fires thought to be exacerbated by climate change.
ZSL have been working alongside local experts across the Douala-Edéa and Lake Ossa Wildlife Reserves in Cameroon since 2014. Together with the Ministry of Forests and Wildlife (MINFOF), local NGOs and communities, ZSL help to protect species living in the forests and along the coast from over exportation and hunting through sustainable community-based initiatives, livelihood support, regular wildlife surveys, ranger support in Protected Areas and habitat restoration.