Discovery of unknown chimpanzees in Congo


Belgian scientist Anne Laudisoit and her team have discovered a subspecies of chimpanzee in the province of Ituri, near Lake Albert, in the north-eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

This area is home to a mosaic of 20 small fragments of mountain forest, covering a total area of 70 km2. In three of these forest fragments, a Belgian-Congolese research team led by Belgian epidemiologist and biologist Anne Laudisoit discovered and documented a community of eastern chimpanzees, a subspecies that is being threatened by a shrinking habitat as forests are cleared to make way for agriculture. It was while carrying out entomological research that, thanks to an indiscretion by her guide, the scientist and adventurer learned of the existence of Mbudha, the source of chimpanzees.

Using camera traps, the researchers documented 42 adult primates and ten babies, which can be seen developing in the documentary produced with photo journalist Caroline Thirion.

This spring, 2021, Anne Laudisoit and a team of biologists have set off on a new expedition to the area and have already observed another 15 chimpanzees. One of their goals is to understand how the Mbudha population is genetically related to or isolated from other communities in the region.