Here are some photos illustrating aspects of my research at the Ishasha River study site, a gallery forest chimpanzee habitat frequented by chimpanzees in one of the driest savanna regions in which chimpanzees have been studied, in the Parc National des Virunga, eastern Zaire

While we tried to record chimpanzee behavior directly, the population was unhabituated and difficult to observe. So we used 50 meter wide belt transects to record the distribution of nests and other traces of chimp activity.

These links connect to images of the cumulative patterns of next and trace artifact evidence I found on the transects:

1989 nest distribution

1990 nest distribution

1989+1990 cumulative distribution of nests and other traces

Transect 6: forest cross section and residue pattern

Overall, the goal of my research is to use chimpanzee ranging patterns and behavior as a guide to interpreting the landscape archaeology and taphonomy of early archaeological sites.


We mapped the locations of any indirect evidence of chimpanzee activity, including the leafwadges shown in this photo, and nest sites.

This picture illustrates a chimpanzee nest that is several weeks old. Chimpanzees generally use their nests for only one night. After the nests are abandonned, they dry out and slowly deteriorate. The stage of deterioration can be used to estimate the relative ages of nests built in different species of tree.

Nests were often found grouped together.

A taphonomic study was also done sampling naturally occurring large mammal bones that occurred on the landscape surface in and adjacent to the forest.

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Link to Jim Moore's African Ape Study sites for a great resource on chimpanzee, bonobo and gorilla research sites.

Link to M.K. Holder's Primate Field Sites for more information about the Ishasha site, and other primate sites in East Africa.

Last updated: 29 September 1998
Copyright 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998 Jeanne Sept