Taï National Park located in the West of Ivory Coast, close to Guinea and Liberia is 000 km2 wide and contains one of the last primary forests in Africa. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982.
Christophe Boesch, a Franco-Swiss primatologist, has been conducting research since 1976 in order to better understand the behavior and life of chimpanzees in order to put it into perspective with human evolution, especially with regard to the emergence of cognitive and cultural skills. In Taï, the number of chimpanzees is estimated between 300 to 500 individuals. The chimpanzee communities living in the National Park are unique in the world. They handle more than 26 tools and are particularly known for breaking nuts using tools (visible only there). They hunt cooperatively and have a unique culture transmitted within the group. Taï chimpanzees have an extraordinary and human-like behavior in terms of teaching children, using tools to feed themselves, peacefully resolving conflicts, understanding death, cooperating in hunting monkeys and even war between neighboring communities.
About 200,000 chimpanzees live in the tropical belt between Senegal in West Africa and Tanzania / Uganda in East Africa. In 1900, researchers estimate that the number was over 1 million. In Ivory coast, the number of animals has declined by 90% over the last 20 years. Since September 2016, it has been classified as endangered by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), notably because of hunting for bushmeat and the destruction of its habitat. From 1977 to 1987, Côte d'Ivoire lost 42% of its entire forest, the highest deforestation rate ever recorded in any country. As a result, primates in the region are particularly threatened.
One of the biggest threats to chimpanzees today is the loss of their living space: the African rainforest. Many hectares of forest are destroyed by fire to obtain fields allowing farmers to grow cereals or cash crops. If the forest is destroyed, chimpanzees must choose between migrating or dying. In 2008, the Ivorian Society for the Development of Forest Plantations (Sodefor) estimated that 300,000 hectares of forests disappear every year as a result of the "misuse" of wood, linked to coal production or tree cutting for the export of valuable species.
Between ecotourism, the involvement of local communities, fight against poaching and scientific observation, the Taï National Park remains one of the last green oases in which still survives several clan of our closest cousins, the Pan Troglodyte.