The 84th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2015)

Engaging students through active participation in a community-based conservation initiative


1Department of Anthropology, University of Utah, 2Department of Environmental Studies, Lynn University

March 28, 2015 , Archview Ballroom Add to calendar

The Tonkolili Chimpanzee Project (TCP), a recently developed field site in central Sierra Leone, offers students experiential learning opportunities through participation in community-based conservation initiatives. At the TCP, students play an integral role in the management and operation of the site, which allows them to experience the successes and challenges that oftentimes accompany community-based conservation projects. In two field seasons thus far (2013-2014), students have had the opportunity to discuss and assist in the development of solutions to problems such as: unauthorized logging in chimpanzee habitat, the retaliatory hosting of a hunter by an outlying village, and cultural conflicts with local communities. Students have also had the opportunity to participate in the collection of chimpanzee population census and camera trap data, as well as informal interviews, community workshops and seed dispersal analyses. By allowing students to witness and participate in the real world problem-solving aspects of a fledgling conservation site, students garner experiences that they can build on in their academic careers.