Conserving a Species, while Caring about Individuals

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Jane Goodall’s philosophy of ‘Every Individual Matters’ has been a core foundation for our Africa Programs at the Jane Goodall Institute.  In each country we work in, we consider the plight of individual chimpanzees, along with that of communities and populations.  A case example is Congo Republic, where we have worked for over two decades.  The original efforts centered around the welfare of individuals that had been confiscated or surrendered over to authorities.  In the past 20 years, more than 200 individuals have been brought to the Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center.  In the last 5 years, as the country has politically stabilized, we have been able to expand our focus on public awareness, education and habitat protection with positive results.   Conservation of any species, will only be achieved when local stakeholders value and respect the targeted species.  Our commitment to individuals, provides an important platform for engaging local stakeholders to consider their actions and interactions with other species.  The results of our public awareness campaign is indicating that a change is taking place and our efforts have not been in vain.  Results show a drop from 26% of confiscations originating from the southern Province of Kouilou over a 20 year period, to 0% in the last five years, since the implementation of our education and public awareness programs and street surveys. These results indicate an appreciation and understanding of why apes need to be protected by the general public.  

About the speaker

Debby Cox currently serves as the Jane Goodall Institute’s (JGI) te  chnical advisor supporting various program areas, particularly in the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).  Since 2009, Cox has helped JGI’s country directors within sub-Saharan Africa develop programs  to alleviate the threats to chimpanzee survival.

Debby started her career in chimpanzee captive management at Taronga Zoo, Australia in 1986. In 1994, Debby volunteered in Burundi at the Jane Goodall Institute’s halfway house for confiscated chimpanzees. She returned as the Co-director in 1994-1995. After translocating the chimps to Kenya she then went onto Uganda to establish a sanctuary for this country at the request of the Institute and the Government of Uganda. Cox assumed the role of executive director of JGI-Uganda.  Cox worked diligently with a wide array of Ugandan government officials and private donors to create what has become the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary.


Cox, who received her masters in science from Australia National University in 2004, is a founding member of the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA) and was a driving force behind its creation.  She continues to be a member of the alliance’s Advisory Council. From 2004, Debby has been a committee member of the IUCN Great Ape Specialist group under the Primate Specialist Group.  In 2008, Debby was elected to the position of Vice President for Captive Care of the International Primatogolical Society.  She also received the Order of Australia award in the general division in 2009.

Cox is an integral part of the management of JGI’s Tchimpounga Rehabilitation Center in the Republic of Congo. Her work at the sanctuary includes supporting the site’s expansion to three nearby islands and continues to support JGIs Africa Program meets its goal.
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