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

Utilizing community interviews to develop a comprehensive species list at the Tonkolili Chimpanzee Project in Sierra Leone


1Department of Environmental Studies, Lynn University, 2Department of Anthropology, University of Utah, 3Conservation & Research, Conservation Society of Sierra Leone

March 28, 2015 , Gateway Ballroom 2/3/4/5 Add to calendar

The Tonkolili Chimpanzee Project—a recently developed conservation site in Sierra Leone—required a comprehensive list of all known fauna in order to create an ecological map of the region. Our methods for developing this species list included reliability testing and informal interviews with randomly selected members of the local community, and proved to be an efficient and effective means of obtaining reliable ecological data for the region. Community members of varying ages and genders (n=10) were asked to participate in the survey. In order to determine whether a given species was “present” or “not present” at the site, we used an iPad© tablet, along with an African wildlife guide application that contained photos and descriptions of each species. Participant dependability was verified through reliability testing measures--we inserted “ruse” species that were known to be absent from the region randomly throughout the questionnaire. In order for the participants’ results to be considered, they had to identify the ruse species as “not present” 100% of the time. The survey successfully produced a species catalogue of the mammals, birds, and reptiles within the habitat. For example, the results indicated, in addition to chimpanzees, the presence of 10 other primate species, 3 carnivores, and 7 ungulates, among others. The survey was conducted as part of the Tonkolili Chimpanzee Project initiative, which seeks to study and conserve chimpanzees living in an anthropogenic habitat consisting of a riparian forest fragment surrounded by croplands and villages.