Where We Work

Where We Work

The Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) is a global nonprofit focused on inspiring individual action to improve the understanding and welfare of great apes and to safeguard the planet we all share. Our mission is based in Dr. Jane Goodall’s belief that the well-being of our world relies on people taking an active interest in all living things.


Protecting great apes and their habitats, and creating a more harmonious relationship between people, animals and the environment is the core of our philosophy and work. Partnering with local communities, we fuel action through the message of hope across every continent. Our Roots & Shoots youth-led community action and learning program supports young people in nearly 100 countries in becoming compassionate conservation and community leaders in their own backyards.

This is where the work begins to save these incredible creatures, and to advance the vision and work of Dr. Jane Goodall for a better world.


Greater Chimp Range

Wild chimpanzees are only found in one place: Africa. Of the 54 countries on the continent of Africa, chimpanzees inhabit those in central and west Africa in the greatest numbers. The largest populations of wild chimpanzees live in tropical rainforests of what used to be a large continuous habitat across the equatorial belt. This once massive unified forest has been left broken and in pieces due to rapid deforestation, and chimpanzee numbers that once ranged in the millions, have been reduced to less than 340,000. Of the 24 countries wild chimps once inhabited, chimpanzee populations have already gone extinct in 3.

In 1960, Jane Goodall entered the forests of what is now Gombe National Park, Tanzania, to study chimpanzees in the wild. Since her pioneering research in Gombe, it has now become the site of one of the longest continuously running and detailed wild animal studies in history at the Gombe Stream Research Center. (Learn more about our Primate Research).

The Gombe Mahale Ecosystem (GMU) has many natural treasures, and its chimpanzees are subjects of global importance and national pride. It is home to many other endangered or threatened species such as the red colobus monkey, bushbabies, elephants, pangolins, mninga trees and serval cats. GMU also has Tanzania’s highest human population growth rate – 4.8% – and people here depend upon shifting agriculture, logging, charcoal burning, hunting and honey-collecting to survive, which unintentionally greatly damages the environment, wildlife populations and essential primate habitat.

Given the harsh realities local communities and wildlife face, like hunting chimps for bushmeat and cutting down trees for wood or agriculture, solutions must be holistic. JGI has identified nine strategies designed to restore and improve the ecosystem for the benefit of all—chimpanzees as well as human communities in Tanzania.

The Albertine Rift, extending from the northern part of Lake Albert, through Uganda, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Tanzania, to the southern tip of Lake Tanganyika, is one of the highest priority areas for biodiversity conservation in Africa. 402 species of mammals (39% of African mammal diversity) including gorillas, chimpanzees, elephants, bongos, thousands of birds and plants, hundreds of reptiles, as well as small and large carnivores are all found in the Albertine Rift region. Uganda is estimated to contain about 5,000 chimpanzees in Budongo Forest Reserve, Bugoma Forest Reserve, Kalinzu Forest Reserve and Kibale National Park.  

Human encroachment, poaching and a lack of sources of income in the local human populations are pressuring the availability of natural resources in and around these reserves. In order to combat these threats, JGI works to increase the capacity of local Eco-guards and government employees to manage protected areas, engage local communities in land-use and natural resource-use planning, promote sustainable livelihoods and educate students about wildlife and the importance of healthy ecosystems.

JGI’s efforts also include sensitizing local communities about the importance of sustainable natural resource use, and improving infrastructure to support the National Forest Authority and other local organizations to engage in conservation activities and generate revenue from ecotourism.

There are estimated to be around 10,000 chimpanzees in the Republic of Congo, and the country is one of the most densely forested in Africa. Tchimpounga Nature Reserve (TNR) houses many vibrant habitats and the most endangered ecosystem type in Africa, the Mayombe forest, (of which only approximately ten percent remains). These ecosystems shelter many endangered species such as forest elephants, western lowland gorillas, mandrill, civets, jackals, pangolins, three species of antelopes, pythons and eleven species of bats.

Threats that persist in other areas in the Congo basin, like human conflict, logging, the spread of disease and hunting for the commercial illegal bushmeat trade, are thriving in Congo. JGI’s Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center, located within TNR, saves and cares for chimpanzee orphans of the illegal bushmeat and pet trade. To prevent poaching, JGI employs local Eco-guards to protect the reserve, and is performing intensive biological surveys to determine the best sites for possible reintroduction of captive chimpanzees into the wild. (Learn more about Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center.)

Coupled with rescuing orphaned chimps, JGI also works to increase areas of protected habitat for chimpanzees, create comprehensive land use management plans, and improves local ability to enforce rules of protection while raising awareness about the importance of great apes and their habitats.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) contains the world’s second largest rainforest and there are estimated to be roughly 70,000 to 100,000 chimpanzees in this region as a part of the larger Congo Basin. Threats to great apes in the country include common but dangerous practices like hunting for the illegal commercial bushmeat trade, mining, deforestation and civil conflict. In response to these threats, the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) is leading a conservation action plan (CAP) in the eastern DRC, targeting 66 million acres, roughly the size of Colorado, where 35,000 chimpanzees and 2,500 to 3,000 gorillas live, along with elephants, okapis, bongo, leopards and nearly a dozen other primate species.

JGI works with communities, local government officials and NGOs alike to protect this critical habitat. In the Institute’s own work in the region, using the TACARE model, JGI works to improve health services and support the development of sustainable agricultural practices for local communities near several national parks in the region.

Despite a range that once spread from Senegal to Nigeria, Western chimpanzee populations have shrunk considerably with the largest groups found in Ivory Coast and Guinea, smaller groups in Liberia and Sierra Leone and relict populations in Mali, Senegal and Ghana. Mali is the only place where a distinct, fascinating and endangered Western chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes verus) population lives. The unique subgroup of chimpanzees in Mali have adapted to very arid conditions, sheltering in caves to avoid the heat of the day and foraging at night. Little is understood about them.

While it is clear that this population needs to be protected, JGI also seeks to document and understand this unique population. JGI is working to establish baseline data about the population’s viability and conservation status, study their cultural and behavioral characteristics and to develop a plan of action with local partners to protect these chimps.

Senegal is home to a very special population of chimpanzees – the last chimpanzees in northernmost Africa (200-500 individuals of the subspecies Pan troglodytes verus). This species has unique ethological features considered to be the closest to the behavior of early humans, and is of exceptional importance to the international scientific community and global heritage. Poverty, the continuing exodus of young people and the lack of opportunity are all contributing to damaging human activities like deforestation for agriculture and livestock, along with fires and natural resource competition.

To combat this, JGI Spain has developed a partnership in Senegal with local communities to support conservation and sustainable development. Local individuals also work on tracking wild chimpanzees, in serious danger of extinction, enabling them to better know and protect the wildlife and environment from threats.

Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots

In 1991, a group of 12 local teenagers made history after meeting with Dr. Jane Goodall in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Feeling the urgency around a range of problems they had first-hand experience with, they wanted to discuss solutions and ways forward. Dr. Jane was impressed by their compassion, their energy and their desire to develop strategies and projects to improve the lives of animals, people and the environment. Roots & Shoots was born.

Across the world, Roots & Shoots members lead public awareness campaigns, save abandoned animals, plant trees, grow community gardens, help the homeless, reduce waste, protect clean water, promote biodiversity and more. Whether it is raising funds for earthquake victims, or creating education films about pollinators for local schools, they are improving our world one project at a time.

Today, the Roots & Shoots network has blossomed into thousand of members in nearly 100 countries.

Make a difference with us.

Photo credits on this page, top to bottom and left to right: JGI/Rob Sassor