Ph.D Student, University of Oxford
Location: Budongo Forest, Uganda
Research: Impact of Human Disturbance on Stress, Disease and Conservation of Chimpanzees in Budongo Forest
Abstract: Across Africa, chimpanzee populations are endangered by habitat loss and hunting. However, little is known about the mechanisms by which chimpanzees respond to human disturbance. While chimpanzees may adapt to changes through the stress response, chronic elevation of stress hormones results in reproductive failure and disease. This research project examines the impact of human disturbance on chimpanzees in Budongo Forest, Uganda. It attempts to identify whether disturbance results in increased stress and disease. Behavioural data are being collected from chimpanzee communities at four sites, each with different disturbance regimes. Feces and urine samples will be used to assess cortisol levels, parasite load, viral and bacteriological pathogens. Interviews with villagers will elucidate variation in human activity. Research will increase understanding of wildlife endocrinology and disease ecology. By exploring both the needs of humans and chimpanzees, this project will help identify critical areas for conservation, and contribute to more effective conservation programs.