Saturday, November 7, 2020

Another site is finished – Twin Oaks in the beautiful Loango National Park in Gabon

Last week, volunteers finished classifications in all three workflows for the Twin Oaks site in Gabon. This site was pretty special. First, it was just a beautiful forest landscape with many fancy birds, great elephant footage, and far more leopard sightings that we ever had at any site before. The elephant and leopard mini-projects are still gathering evidence for individual identifications to know more about the number and demographics of these species at Loango National Park, so get involved here, if that’s your passion.

The Chimp&See leopard mini-project aims to identify individual leopards by comparing their unique coat patterns.
Secondly, the site was pretty special in terms of chimpanzee sightings and discussions. The camera traps had been set up in collaboration with the Loango Chimpanzee Project, directed by Simone Pika and Tobias Deschner. The Loango Chimpanzee Project studies chimpanzee behavior and ecology in the Park since 2005 and habituated the Rekambo community that was also targeted by the Chimp&See camera traps. A recent finding of the project that made the news shows that chimpanzees crack tortoises open to eat them. 

Because of this collaboration, we had the chance to discuss with a researcher, Alessandra Mascaro, and Chimp&See citizen-scientist moderator Heidi Pfund about individual chimps that Alessandra knows intimately from her fieldwork. That means, we did not really discuss possible matches, but rather perspectives and identifiable traits of known chimpanzees. This “reverse matching” resulted in a steep learning curve for everyone involved and provided some new matching perspectives, but also caveats, for other sites where we typically discuss unknown chimps from just the camera trap footage. Another interesting part of these discussions were known family relationships and life stories of the chimps, even if that meant to know that a certain individual died during or after the study period. 

Finishing Twin Oaks doesn’t mean that we’ve run out of work. We started a two-months “chimp matching challenge” to finish the huge Xenon Bloom site. Become part of the team and help us identify all chimps and annotate the videos. We also opened a new site “Soaring Leaf” in West Africa, if you’re more drawn to the general “Species ID” workflow. 

Get involved at and thanks a lot for all your help on behalf of the Chimp&See science team!