This book tells the story of a group of chimpanzees taken from the wild forests of West-Central Africa, about half a century ago, to live in zoos and then to be released from captivity in Europe onto a forested island on Lake Victoria, Tanzania. The authors combine information gathered from extensive fieldwork, laboratory and archival research. Originating from a small number of founder animals, the chimpanzee population on Rubondo island today is thriving. The authors situate their wild lives within the ecological context of the island and describe the ranging behaviour of the apes, their fission-fusion-society, the architecture of their night nests, and their diet and gut microbiome. A comparison of the ecology, behaviour and genetics of the Rubondo apes with other communities of wild chimpanzees provides exciting insights into how our closest relatives adjust to changing environments. At the same time, a reconstruction of the historical circumstances that led to the Rubondo experiment reflects on its chequered colonial heritage, and the operation is contextualised in the light of current threats to the survival of apes in their wild habitats. The Chimpanzees of Rubondo Island will be of interest to scholars and professionals working in primatology, animal behaviour, reintroduction and conservation biology.
1. Creating a Wilderness. The Making of an Island National Park
2. The Founder's Odyssey. Captured, Caged, Released
3. Rubondo Island. Weather, Forests, Wildlife, Humans
4. Bound to be Wild. Sociality and Ranging
5. Embedded. Mastering a New Environment
6. Apes in the Anthropocene. Lessons from a Maverick Release?
Appendix: Publications about Rubondo Island, Its History and Wildlife
Josephine Nadezda Msindai obtained a BSc in Biological Sciences from King’s College London (2005), an MSc in Primate Conservation at Oxford Brookes University (2008) and a PhD in Anthropology from University College London (2018). The Chimpanzees of Rubondo Island is based on her doctoral work at UCL which included almost two years of field research in Tanzania.
Volker Sommer is a Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology at UCL, UK. He obtained his PhD in Anthropology at Göttingen University (1985) and has conducted extensive primatological field studies in India (since 1981), Thailand (since 1984) and Nigeria (since 1999).