Mahale Research 50th Anniversary Event in Kigoma, Tanzania

Takuya Matsumoto
Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University, Japan

The Mahale Research 50th Anniversary Event was held in Kigoma, Tanzania, on 26 November 2015. About fifty participants, including Mahale Mountains Chimpanzee Research Project (MMCRP) researchers and their Tongwe assistants (active and retired), guests from Tanzania Wildlife Research Insitute (TAWIRI), Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA), Embassy of Japan in Tanzania, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Mahale Wildlife Conservation Society (MWCS), and Gombe Stream Research Centre, assembled at the Lake Tanganyika Hotel (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Participants in the International Workshop: 50 Years of Research on Wild Chimpanzees and Other Wildlife in Mahale, at Lake Tanganyika Beach Hotel, Kigoma, Tanzania, on 26 November 2015 (All photos in Figures 1–3 courtesy of Hiroko Sakuragi).

The event was called to order at 1430 h. His Excellency Masaharu Yoshida (the Japanese Ambassador to Tanzania; Figure 2), Mr. Toshio Nagase (Chief Representative of the JICA Tanzania Office), Mr. Herman Batiho (Chief Park Warden of Mahale Mts. National Park, TANAPA), Dr. Edward Kohi (Director of the Mahale– Gombe Wildlife Research Centre, TAWIRI) and others gave speeches, and a video message from Professor Hosea Kayumbo (University of Dar es Salaam/ Chairman of MWCS) was screened.

Figure 2. His Excellency Masaharu Yoshida, the Japanese Ambassador to Tanzania, gives a speech.

After a coffee break, Michio Nakamura, Nobuko Nakazawa, and Takuya Matsumoto from Kyoto University/ MMCRP gave talks titled “An Overview of 50 years of Chimpanzee Research at Mahale,” “Recent Research Advances in Mammals other than Chimpanzees,” and “Diversity of Chimpanzee Behavior,” respectively (Figure 3).

Figure 3. The whole participants practice “Grooming Hand-Clasp” known as a social custom of Mahale chimpanzees in Matsumoto’s talk.

After the event, we enjoyed dinner and celebrated the 50th anniversary of Mahale Research into the night. Ramadhani Nyundo, who worked in the first two decades of MMCRP and later hired by TANAPA, made a toast and Hilali Kalunde expressed the history of Mahale in poetry or song (Shairi in Swahili) at dinner. Mr. Yoshida commented, “I have seen in a new light that research in Mahale such as cultural behaviors of chimpanzees is not only important to biology, but also attractive to the public.” Mwami Rashidi, who had been an assistant of MMCRP and whose father had also belonged to MMCRP, commented that he would like to help research in Mahale for the next 50 years.

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