ArcNews Online

Fall 2005
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GIS in Chimpanzee Research and Conservation at JGI

The Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) Center for Primate Studies at the University of Minnesota is where 45 years of wild chimpanzee research comes together. The center houses virtually all field notes, maps, film, and other artifacts of scientific activity. During the last decade, data on chimpanzees in the Gombe region was digitized using GIS software from Esri. Lilian Pintea, the director of Conservation Science at JGI integrates chimpanzee data with habitat change and human land-use information from satellite images to help understand chimpanzee habitat relationships and develop conservation strategies for the Greater Gombe Ecosystem. Pintea says, "Ecology is critical to studying chimpanzee behavior. Satellite images and GIS are the tools that can help bring the ecology into understanding chimpanzee lives and even help save them from extinction."

One of the GIS projects he has worked on combines one-meter resolution satellite imagery with participatory mapping to understand local perceptions and knowledge of the landscapes outside Gombe National Park. This methodology will be used by JGI to support conservation and land-use planning in 13 villages using The Nature Conservancy Conservation Area Planning methodology. The next objective is to transfer GIS capacity to the Tanzania National Parks, which manages Gombe National Park, and JGI staff in Tanzania, who can work together using on-site GIS labs to save the Gombe ecosystem. But training, technical support, and financial resources are needed. To learn more about GIS projects at JGI and how you can help, contact Lilian Pintea (e-mail:

See main article, "Jane Goodall Tells Her Story at Esri's 25th User Conference."

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