One of the main threats to conservation initiatives in the Congo Basin is the lack of training opportunities for national conservationists, particularly related to wildlife management and sustainability. The Goualougo Triangle Ape Project has a strong history of providing training opportunities and implementing quality educational programs for local staff. Our approach to building local capacity is based on intensive one-on-one mentoring, leadership training, and individualized work plans which have resulted in a strong national research and management staff. Our long-term goal is to aid in providing the skills and empowerment so that local people can make significant contributions to global conservation issues. To achieve that aim, it is essential that current conservation practitioners are called upon to inspire younger generations of students with information about the significant role that their country can play in global conservation planning.
Jean Robert Onononga, MSc
Mr. Onononga has dedicated his career to conservation of central African forests and wildlife. After graduating from Marien Ngouabi University with a degree in Forestry in 1992, he served as a consultant at the Brazzaville Zoo and conducted field research in the Ndoki Forests with the Japanese Association for the Projection of the Animals in Congo. He then worked for the IUCN as scientific coordinator and director of the environmental education program at Conkouati-Douli National Park, Republic of Congo. After working with the Wildlife Conservation Society to conduct research at Conkouati-Douli National Park, Republic of Congo, he was recruited to join the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project as a research assistant in 2001. To determine the densities of gorillas and chimpanzees in the region and assess the impact of logging on these apes, Mr. Onononga spent several years conducting line transects to survey great ape populations in and around the Goualougo Triangle. He has presented his research at international conferences, published several research papers, and obtained a Masters in Primate Conservation from Oxford Brookes University in the U.K. His graduate thesis focused on using the marked-nest method to improve the precision of great ape surveys. After obtaining his graduate degree, Mr. Onononga was promoted to Project Manager of the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project. He is currently the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Principal Technical Adviser for the Projet de Gestion des Ecosystémes Péripheriques du Parc (PROGEPP) which is one of the largest conservation programs in Republic of Congo. His dedication to conservation has resulted in formal recognition from the American Society of Primatology.
Crepin Eyana Ayina
In 2004, Mr. Eyana Ayina obtained his undergraduate degree in Technical Forestry from Marien Ngouabi University in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. He received professional training with the logging company Congolaise Industrielle de Bois (CIB) working in the northern region of the Republic of Congo. In 2005, he was recruited to work as a research assistant for the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project. Mr. Eyana Ayina spent several years working with Mr. Onononga on transect surveys, and completed a 3-month conservation training course at Lope, Gabon. Thereafter, the main focus of his work was on conducting line transect surveys of great apes both within the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park and in the surrounding forestry concessions. Repeated surveys of this zone have elucidated the impact of logging on chimpanzees and gorillas. Mr. Eyana Ayina is also proficient in conducting direct observations of great apes, camera trapping, and phenological monitoring. He recently spent 6 months at Central Washington University in the University English as a Second Language Program. During this time, he was also a volunteer at the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute. He also visited the Lester E. Fisher Center at Lincoln Park Zoo and worked with interns on behavioral monitoring of great apes using handheld computer devices. Since returning from his the U.S.A., Mr. Eyana Ayina has been promoted to overseeing field operations for the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project.
Sydney Thony Ndolo Ebika, MSc
Mr. Ndolo obtained his bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in plant biology from Marien Ngouabi University, Republic of Congo. In early 2006, he was recruited to work as a research assistant for the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Ndoki-Likouala Monitoring Program for which he conducted ecological monitoring on line transects in the Lac Tele Reserve. Later that year, he joined the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project as a research assistant focusing on plant identification, phenological monitoring and botanical surveys. In 2011, he obtained a master’s degree from the University of Edinburgh in the Biodiversity and Taxonomy of Plants. His thesis was entitled “A Preliminary Checklist of the Vascular Plants and a Key to Ficus of Goualougo Triangle, Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park”. Mr. Ndolo-Ebika was awarded a Darwin Fellowship in 2013 to work with colleagues at the Royal Botanic Garden of Edinburgh. He aspires to obtain a doctoral degree and continue his career in botany.
Mr. Nzeheke obtained his undergraduate and master’s degrees in agricultural studies at the University Ciego de Avila, Cuba. Since joining the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project in 2008, Mr. Nzeheke has shown extraordinary initiative and leadership. Mr. Nzeheke leads research and habituation efforts focused on chimpanzees, while also overseeing phenological monitoring and serving as the point person for camera trapping in multiple chimpanzee communities within the study area. He has great talents in training and education, which has greatly benefited the more junior research staff of the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project. He has also become an important civic leader in the local village.
Shortly after obtaining his undergraduate degree from Marien Ngouabi University in Brazzaville, Mr. Mayoukou was recruited by the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project to assist in ape monitoring and chimpanzee habituation. He is also proficient in phenological surveys and camera trap protocols. Continuing the tradition of Mr. Onononga and Mr. Eyana Ayina’s dedication to surveying ape populations, Mr. Mayoukou will lead the line transect survey effort of the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project within the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park and in the surrounding forestry concessions.
Thierry Fabrice Ebombi
Mr. Ebombi obtained his undergraduate degree from Marien Ngouabi University in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. In 2012, he was recruited to habituate a gorilla group in the Goualougo Triangle to human observers. He has taken a leadership role in this capacity and has also shown great talent in managing field teams.
Jean Marie Massamba
Mr. Massamba obtained his undergraduate degree from Marien Ngouabi University in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. In 2012, he was recruited to assist with ape research and habituation efforts of the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project. His dedication and enthusiasm have greatly advanced the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project’s gorilla research program.
In 2005, Mr. Singono was recruited from the local village to assist Mr. Onononga with transect surveys. Since that time, he has been trained in chimpanzee habituation and direct observation protocols. Mr. Singono has proven to be a very capable videographer and has had the opportunity to assist visiting photographers from the National Geographic Society and BBC during film shoots in the Goualougo Triangle. Mr. Singono’s loyalty and tireless approach to field work have been key to the success of the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project.
Mr. Koni is the son of the former chief of Kabo and Bon Coin villages. Since being recruited to join the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project in 2010, he has proven to be a highly motivated and a capable field assistant. In response to his expressed interests in plants and the importance of having staff knowledgeable in botany, the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project established a work program to develop Mr. Koni’s botanical skills through mentorship by Mr. Ndolo. Mr. Koni’s developing skills in botanical identification are a great asset to understanding the feeding ecology of chimpanzees and gorillas in the Goualougo Triangle.
Mr. Meguessa has a long history of working with researchers in the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park. In the early 1990’s, he was an essential member of the support staff to Kyoto University’s ape research team working in the Ndoki Forests. He then assisted with establishment of the Mbeli Bai camp. In 1999, he lent his logistical expertise and forest knowledge to launching the Goualougo Triangle base camp. After spending several more years working as a camp assistant at Mbeli and an ecoguard for the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park, Mr. Meguessa returned to become the camp logistician for the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project. His excellent work ethic and dedication have been essential to the success of our project.