The Smell of Success in Fight Against Wildlife Trade


The Jane Goodall Institute maintains a dedicated mission to improve the welfare of chimpanzees, battling ongoing threats to their existence in the wild and well-being in sanctuaries. But protecting chimpanzees in Republic of the Congo (RoC) often proves to be complicated work. At the Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center, alongside best-in-class welfare standards and community-centered conservation practices, efforts to end trafficking enlist a variety of methods to deal with the illegal pet and bushmeat trade. One such method involves protecting the Tchimpounga Nature Reserve through an emerging program that utilizes the skills of sniffer dogs. 

Sniffer dogs at JGI’s Tchimpounga Center being treated by JGI Vets.

This canine program has thus far included three dogs, each of whom has been trained to detect arms, ammunition, and every species found on the protected wildlife list put together by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Each morning, the three dogs and their respective handlers travel with reserve rangers to the protected area’s three entrance/exit posts to conduct a thorough search of incoming and outgoing vehicles. This works in tandem with the rangers’ usage of Cyber Tracker, a tracking software that keeps records of license plates belonging to vehicles entering and exiting the reserve. Additionally, the Cyber Tracker app doubles as record-keeper for ranger performance and accountability, another practical and effective usage of JGI’s larger scientific and technological approach.  

A representative of the Congolese ministry visits sniffer dog training project at Tchimpounga Reserve alongside JGI Congo director and head veterinarian Dr. Rebeca Atencia.

If one of the sniffer dogs detects arms or ammunition, the illegal goods are subsequently confiscated and handed over to the Forest Ministry. It’s otherwise up to the rangers’ discerning abilities of inspection to seek out and seize illegal goods that the dogs cannot detect. In just a few-month stretch of 2019, reserve rangers uncovered 135 wood boards, 23 snares, and four machetes. They also came across poacher camps in two separate areas of the reserve in that period. When illegal activities are found on daily patrols, rangers immediately record them via GPS and inform the park manager and director to decide what action should follow.

On top of this, JGI RoC maintains a community-driven approach. JGI RoC works with the head of the nearby community to provide him with updates regarding illegal incidents in the reserve, which he then shares with others. Additionally, JGI provides environmental awareness, education and sustainable livelihoods in the area. In this way, JGI is extinguishing direct threats while increasing awareness, working with law enforcement, and engaging with local communities.

Read more stories from the 2019 Annual Report at


The Jane Goodall Institute is a global community conservation organization that advances the vision and work of Dr. Jane Goodall. By protecting chimpanzees and inspiring people to conserve the natural world we all share, we improve the lives of people, animals and the environment. Everything is connected—everyone can make a difference.

gfan learn more v2gfan support jgi v2

gfan shop jgi v2


About Author