Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Summer 2023

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Primate Behavior

Committee Chair

Dr. Lori Sheeran

Second Committee Member

Dr. Jessica Mayhew

Third Committee Member

Dr. Alan Almquist


Relationships between humans and alloprimates, in particular between humans and chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), have occurred for centuries. Chimpanzee discoveries by western philosophers date back to the 16th and 17th centuries, and their earliest accounts in West Africa suggest that chimpanzees interacted and lived in close contact with humans, thus shaping the way both species adapt to their environments. Humans occupy this same space along with chimpanzees, and we need them as much as they need us. The continued decline in wild populations of species such as chimpanzees can have negative impacts for biodiversity. Chimpanzees have a mostly frugivorous diet, making them an invaluable species for seed dispersing that can help rejuvenate the forests they inhabit. Human activity, directly and indirectly, poses a major threat to wild chimpanzee populations and their natural habitats. In this study, I gained a deeper understanding of human-chimpanzee interactions. I conducted semi-structured interviews with forest patrol guards, and caregivers of orphaned chimpanzees who enter the Tacugama Sanctuary in Sierra Leone. These two groups of people are most likely to interface with chimpanzees as they enter the sanctuary system, so my interviews with them have helped me gain an understanding of the causes of chimpanzee endangerment in this area. My data is foundational to the development of realistic solutions to the decline in chimpanzee populations and might reveal opportunities to encourage co-existence between people and primates.

Available for download on Saturday, August 17, 2024