Assessment of the Chimpanzee Populations in Akure-Ofosu Forest Reserve, Southwestern Nigeria
The status of chimpanzee populations in western Nigeria was poorly known, and they were judged to be highly threatened, and a plan for their conservation needed. Information on the presence, distribution and abundance of chimpanzees in Akure-Ofosu reserve was obtained from interviews and by making wide-ranging reconnaissance surveys in the company of local guides. Ten short series of line-transect censuses was also conducted. Field work was conducted in March-April 2007 and September-October 2007. Three main areas were identified as still supporting chimpanzee populations in Akure-Ofosu Forest Reserve. These are the Premier Gantry/Benin-Olojoda Road Junction, an area called Double Bridge, and east of Jingbe a settlement between Akure-Ofosu and Idanre Forest Reserves. No direct sighting of chimpanzees was achieved however, a total of 33 nests were counted at four sites. Twenty-five (75.8%) of the nests were observed in a single forest block (Double Bridge). The remaining eight nests (24.2%) were observed in two locations within a second forest block (Jingbe). Other primate species encountered include mona monkey, white-throated monkey, putty-nosed monkey and red-capped mangabey. Hunting and intensive exploitation of timber are the main threats to the chimpanzees in the reserve. Akure-Ofosu Forest Reserve does appear to have potential as a chimpanzee conservation site in southwestern Nigeria, especially in combination with such adjacent forests as Idanre.
Key words: chimpanzee populations, wide-ranging reconnaissance and forest block