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Enathe Hasabwamariya, MS, is a 2018 graduate of the MS Program in Environmental Studies at Antioch University New England

Thesis Committee:

  • Beth Kaplin, PhD, Thesis Adviser
  • Shadrack M. Kamenya, PhD, Committee Member
  • Rebecca L. Chancellor, PhD, Committee Member

Document Type

Thesis

Publication Date

2018

Abstract

Great apes, our closest biological relatives are threatened globally by the increasing anthropogenic pressures on their habitat. The major threats to the eastern chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) are hunting for bush meat and illegal trade in chimpanzee infants, habitat loss or fragmentation and disease transmission (IUCN, 2010). Nyungwe National Park (NNP), Rwanda has a population of chimpanzees that face several threats, including hunting for bushmeat, habitat degradation from forest fires and human-wildlife conflicts, and much of these impacts are concentrated at forest edges. The main objectives of this research were to assess the use of forest edges by chimpanzees along the border of NNP and determine the influence of human activities on chimpanzee ranging patterns. My assistants and I set five transects inside the forest perpendicular to the forest edges in the vicinity of Gisovu in the north of NNP, and five transects parallel to the forest edges outside the forest. We recorded chimpanzee signs along those transects, and GPS waypoints were taken for each sign recorded. Vegetation sampling was done to identify habitat types along the edges (0-500m) and in the forest interior (500-1000m). In total 100 signs of chimpanzees were recorded, 67 signs near forest edges (0-500m), and 37 signs in the forest interior (500-1000m). I found a significant difference between the number of chimpanzee signs in forest edges and chimpanzee signs in forest interior (Binom. Test, 100, 0.6, p=0.01). There was no significant relationship between density, basal area of nesting trees and chimpanzee distribution, however, there was a tendency toward a positive or a negative relationship depending on the tree species present. I found a significant positive relationship between fruit availability and chimpanzee distribution. Outside the park, chimpanzees were recorded destroying people’s beehives. This research is one of the first studies done in Gisovu area and contributes to the 8 understanding of the behavioral ecology of chimpanzees and their interactions with the surrounding human-dominated environment.

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