Research Opportunities


Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary offers scientific research opportunities to national and international university students studying conservation biology, wildlife conservation, environmental science, veterinary science, education studies, communication or related degrees. We encourage students to conduct their bachelor master’s and PhD thesis research with Tacugama. We have opportunities for on and off site research in some of the following areas: chimpanzee behaviour; community perception research; disease investigation; diet analysis; anti-poaching activities; biology of threatened species (such as pygmy hippo, colobus monkey, Diana monkey, Timneh African grey parrot, African manatee, pangolin, hooded vulture); canopy cover and habitat use research; and GIS mapping.

To inquire or submit an application, please email us through our Contact Us page.

Tacugama is open to independent and innovative research ideas. Students interested in discussing additional topics to those listed below should email us to discuss their idea and provide a written research proposal.

Specific Research Projects

Tacugama has an ongoing seasonal mortality that has been named the “Tacugama Mystery Disease Syndrome”, otherwise known as “epizootic neurologic and gastroenteric syndrome” or ENGS. The sanctuary’s resident veterinarian and conservation manager require researchers to study this disease which presents either as sudden death or a sudden onset neurological syndrome. The season occurs from February to April (height of the dry season) and is location specific to animals with access to the forest (animals in non-forested enclosures are not affected). This syndrome was published in Nature Communications in 2021 and is available for open access here: 

Researchers with the following expertise are needed:

  • Epidemiology
  • Virology
  • Forensics
  • Bacteriology
  • Microbiology
  • Neurology
  • Toxicology
  • Entomology
  • Botany

This species is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN and populations continue to decline. This research aims to identify the nesting sites and plan conservation strategies to protect them from disturbance while managing eco-tourism activities accordingly.

This is a research site approximately 6-7 hours drive from the sanctuary.

Areas of need include:

  • Western chimpanzee research. Monitor diet, human-chimpanzee interactions, interactions with other chimpanzee groups, habitat use and identification of new wildlife corridors.
  • African manatee research. To estimate density, study movement patterns and any other information that can help us to plan conservation strategies for this species and its habitat.
  • Timneh African grey parrot research. Monitor a translocated group of parrots for potential release.

This is a research site approximately 5 hours drive from the sanctuary.

Areas of need include:

Vegetation surveys. Studies on the abundance, distribution and phenology of the vegetation that is significant to the key wildlife species of the Island.

Update/develop a fish species list and estimate abundance to help determine which species need protection and to develop sustainable practices for fishing in the area.

Studies on the density, movement patterns, habitat use of key species to help plan conservation strategies. Key species include:

  • Western chimpanzee
  • Pygmy hippo
  • Red colobus
  • Black and White colobus
  • Diana Monkey
  • Zebra duiker
  • Tree pangolin