, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 26–35 | Cite as

A Retrospective Analysis of Factors Correlated to Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) Respiratory Health at Gombe National Park, Tanzania

  • Elizabeth V. LonsdorfEmail author
  • Carson M. Murray
  • Eric V. Lonsdorf
  • Dominic A. Travis
  • Ian C. Gilby
  • Julia Chosy
  • Jane Goodall
  • Anne E. Pusey
Original Contribution


Infectious disease and other health hazards have been hypothesized to pose serious threats to the persistence of wild ape populations. Respiratory disease outbreaks have been shown to be of particular concern for several wild chimpanzee study sites, leading managers, and researchers to hypothesize that diseases originating from and/or spread by humans pose a substantial risk to the long-term survival of chimpanzee populations. The total chimpanzee population in Gombe National Park, Tanzania, has declined from 120–150 in the 1960s to about 100 by the end of 2007, with death associated with observable signs of disease as the leading cause of mortality. We used a historical data set collected from 1979 to 1987 to investigate the baseline rates of respiratory illness in chimpanzees at Gombe National Park, Tanzania, and to analyze the impact of human-related factors (e.g., banana feeding, visits to staff quarters) and non-human-related factors (e.g., sociality, season) on chimpanzee respiratory illness rates. We found that season and banana feeding were the most significant predictors of respiratory health clinical signs during this time period. We discuss these results in the context of management options for the reduction of disease risk and the importance of long-term observational data for conservation.


chimpanzees Gombe National Park disease respiratory illness risk management conservation 



We are grateful to the Jane Goodall Institute and Tanzania National Parks for supporting the long-term study since its inception and continuing that support in the present and future. We are particularly grateful to the Gombe Stream Research Centre field assistants, who continue to collect the valuable long-term data on which this paper is based. We thank the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute and the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology for permission to and support while conducting research at Gombe. We thank the Lincoln Park Zoo, the US Fish and Wildlife Service Great Ape Conservation Fund, and the Arcus Foundation for funding support. We are grateful to the numerous assistants who have entered long-term data into a database at the Jane Goodall Institute’s Center for Primate Studies, with support from the National Science Foundation, the University of Minnesota, the Harris Steel Group, the Windibrow Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation, Minnesota Base Camp, and the Jane Goodall Institute. In addition, we are grateful to Joann Schumacher-Stankey, Michelle Smith and Cecilia Simon for assistance with the organization and mining of the retrospective data.


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Copyright information

© International Association for Ecology and Health 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth V. Lonsdorf
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Carson M. Murray
    • 1
    • 3
  • Eric V. Lonsdorf
    • 1
  • Dominic A. Travis
    • 1
  • Ian C. Gilby
    • 4
  • Julia Chosy
    • 1
  • Jane Goodall
    • 5
  • Anne E. Pusey
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Conservation and ScienceLincoln Park ZooChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Committee on Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA
  3. 3.Institute for Mind and BiologyUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA
  4. 4.Department of Evolutionary AnthropologyDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  5. 5.The Jane Goodall InstituteArlingtonUSA

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