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Providing evidence to improve practice

Action: Resettle illegal human communities (i.e. in a protected area) to another location Primate Conservation

Key messages

Read our guidance on Key messages before continuing

  • One review on mountain gorillas in Uganda found that no more gorillas were killed after illegal settlers were relocated from the area, alongside other interventions.
  • One before-and-after study in the Republic of Congo found that most reintroduced chimpanzees survived over five years after human communities were resettled, from the protected area alongside other interventions.

Supporting evidence from individual studies


A review of mountain gorillas Gorilla beringei beringei in 1972-1989 in tropical montane forest in Eastern Virungas Conservation Area, Uganda found that no gorillas were killed in 1989-1990 after human settlers were relocated from an area inside the Gorilla Game Reserve alongside other interventions. This area represented important gorilla habitat and was 3 km2 in size. At the same time, the game guard force was also increased from three to 13 men, provided with better equipment, and trained and supervised by researchers who started working in the area as part of a permanent research project. The study does not distinguish between the effects of the different interventions mentioned above.


A before-and-after trial in 1994-1999 in mixed tropical dry and swamp forest in Conkouati-Douli National Park, Republic of Congo found that the majority of reintroduced central chimpanzees Pan troglodytes troglodytes survived for at least five years when resident illegal human communities were resettled to another location along with 16 other interventions. Fourteen out of 20 reintroduced chimpanzees (70%) survived until at least the end of the study. No statistical tests were carried out to determine whether the population decrease was significant. Thirteen local people that lived at the release site were moved to a village nearby. Rehabilitated orphaned chimpanzees underwent vaccination, treatment for parasites and veterinary screens before being radio-collared and translocated in four subgroups to the release site where wild chimpanzees lived. Staff members were permanently present to monitor primate health, provide animals with additional food if necessary and detect and examine dead animals. The area status was upgraded from a reserve to a national park in 1999. Some individuals were treated when sick or injured. TV and radio advertisements were used to raise chimpanzee conservation awareness and local people were provided monetary and non-monetary benefits in exchange for their conservation support. The study does not distinguish between the effects of the different interventions mentioned above.

Referenced papers

Please cite as:

Junker, J., Kühl, H.S., Orth, L., Smith, R.K., Petrovan, S.O. & Sutherland, W.J. (2019) Primate conservation. Pages 439-491 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, N. Ockendon, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2019. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.