Course details


What can Cognitive Scientists do to save chimpanzees? (Part III)

WS 2021 Prof. Dr. Simone Pika Hybrid
M.Sc modules:
CC-MP-SP - Study Project
CS-MP-SP - Study Project
Tue: 14-15

Like us, chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) are highly social animals, care for their offspring for years and can live to be over 50 years of age. With bonobos (Pan paniscus), chimpanzees are our closest living relatives: we share about 98% of our genes. Chimpanzees have become the most predominant referential model for the evolution of human cognition. Research on wild communities originated in the 1960ies with pioneers such as Jane Goodall and Toshisada Nishida who set up the first long-term field sites in Tanzania (Goodall, 1986; Nakamura, Hosaka, Itoh, & Zamma, 2015). However, today chimpanzees are critically endangered with currently only 172.700 to 299.700 individuals left. A recent study showed that the presence of researchers and research camps positively impacts on wildlife stock and hence the protection of endangered species (Köndgen et al., 2008). For instance, more research and thus presence in the Taï National Park (Ivory Coast) resulted in higher densities of chimpanzees and lower poaching activities. Furthermore, raising awareness in the local communities and internationally via theater groups (e.g., and the social media are fundamental means to increase conservation efforts. The study group ‘What can Cognitive Scientists do to save chimpanzees?’ will further act by creating a think-tank to raise awareness for chimpanzees living in the Loango National Park in Gabon ( We will develop a new app or social media formats (e.g. youtube channel) to provide the public with fun tools to learn about and increase the awareness and protection of chimpanzees. Evaluation of participation: Interdisciplinary course participants will be evaluated based on their presentation and the shared interim report. Study project participants will be evaluated based on the final presentation of their sub-projects and the shared project report at the end of the semester.