5 mei 2017

New fieldwork/research coordinator Chimbo

Katharina Kühnert is leaving us as the fieldwork/research coordinator. For family-reasons she will leave one month earlier than originally planned. Kathy came first to the Boé in 2015 to do field research for her Master’s thesis in ornithology with the University of Göttingen (Germany). She did an excellent job and we were therefore very pleased when she agreed to come back to the Boé for one year to assist us with the setting up the field programme for the COMBAC-Boé project. We are very indebted to Katharina, not only for the quality of her work but especially for her unbridled dedication to the Boé, its nature and its people.

To replace Katharina, we contracted Anouk Puijk (see photo). She will travel to Guinea Bissau in May. Anouk has a BSc in Biology of the University of Utrecht and a MSc in Forest and Nature Conservation from the University of Wageningen (both in The Netherlands). She has done field work in the Caribbean Islands and in South Africa. During the interviews, Anouk made an excellent impression on us, and we look forward to work with her in the Boé. She hopes to be able to combine her work for us with the work needed for a PhD.

29 maart 2017

Do Chimpanzees need sacred forests?

A Master student from the University of Wageningen, Anna Nunes van den Hoven, started her research on the distribution of the chimpanzee in the Boé. She will stay in the Boé for four months to do a field study.

She will investigate to what extent the Western Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes verus) is present in the sacred respectively in non-sacred forests around Beli during the late dry season and/or the start of the rain season. In her research, she will try to find an answer to the question whether the presence of chimpanzees differs between sacred and non-sacred forests areas. And if yes, how differences in for instance the availability of large trees and water can explain preferences of chimpanzees.

If she finds important differences the need of improved protection of sacred forests might become urgent.

17 maart 2017

In Boé (Guinea Bissau) people believe in the spirits of the forest: this protects the environment

Gautham Ramachandra (MSc student of Wageningen University), investigated governance of the sacred forests (small forests protected by traditional believes and rules) in the Boé.

He has been interviewed by Luis Fonseca of RTP Notícias (Portugal) about his research: http://www.rtp.pt/noticias/cultura/aldeias-da-guine-acreditam-nos-espiritos-da-floresta-e-isso-protege-o-ambiente_n982298. The article is written in Portuguese, so we will give a short outline below.

Gautham tells that each forest in Guinea-Bissau has a guardian, chosen in a nearby village, and only that person knows how to please the spirits of nature to give access to the forest to those who need it. If anyone needs a medicinal herb, he must first speak to the person responsible for the sacred forest who performs a ceremony that satisfies the spirits. Anyone who does not abide by the rule risks to suffer the consequences reported in stories that pass from generation to generation.

In the survey, Gautham has detected signs of a loss of vigor in celebrating these beliefs. Difficulties in internal organization after the death of a guardian or financial constraints, for example, through reluctance to share in the buying of a cow for celebrations linked to nature, are signs of diminishing support for traditions.

Gautham states that safeguarding these traditions will benefit not only nature but also the local population. The sacred forests in the Boé are important because of the natural springs you can find almost all sites. If these places are lost, the population loses important sources of drinking water.

 

 

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